Ever since Kristina McKibbin was born, she’s been in and out of hospitals for her mother’s cancer treatments.

“We just kept going to the hospital and waiting in waiting rooms and seeing other families and then the doctors coming in and telling them that their loved ones didn’t make it, or stuff like that," said Kristina.

  • Program provides mentoring for young people whose parents are battling cancer
  • Mentors volunteer six to eight hours per month through a one year commitment
  • Relationships formed help to fill the void left by parents who are absent due to illness

"I was always concerned that like, if that was ever going to happen to like me, and my family.”

Kristina’s father said his wife’s brain cancer diagnosis and complications have left her bed-ridden and changed the childhood they wished Kristina could have had.

“She was concerned to the point where each day she was worried. And I said, 'Look, you know, we can’t have you at such a young age worried. You have to focus on developing yourself and learning. You can’t be worried about me and you can’t be worried about your mom,'” Brian McKibbin said.

From about the third grade, Kristina’s father connected his daughter with Walk With Sally, an organization that pairs children who have parents battling cancer with mentors to help fill the void. 

Mentors volunteer six to eight hours per month with a one year commitment. Through this method, Walk With Sally has matched 95 friendships like Kristina and her mentor, Marlo Roquemore, through the program.

“Seeing other people with their moms and seeing how different it is, it’s almost like I wish I had that, but I don’t. So it’s just kind of like you just have to live with it sometimes,” Kristina said.

Kristina was paired with Roquemore over two years ago. After Roquemore lost her own mother to cancer she said she wanted to be there for Kristina, whose mother has been battling cancer and its complications for the last 17 years.

“I do really hope that our friendship is something that she really enjoys and takes pride in as well,” Roquemore said.

On this day, the two bonded over cookies and focused on Kristina’s future. As a senior in high school, she’s on her way to college and she said talking through her options with Roquemore is helpful.

“It kind of makes you forget about that stuff sometimes. Just joking and having fun, but I don’t think she ever like realizes that it really means a lot to me too, because she really is one of my best friends,” Kristina said.

Although Kristina said she wished she could be sharing moments with her mother, she’s created a deep friendship with Roquemore that they both hope they can share, find comfort in, and enjoy for years to come.