The Kisses for Kyle Scholarship Program was established to support the college aspirations of
students who have had cancer at some point in their childhood, and who are now pursuing a
college degree that will prepare them for a career helping children who, like they once did, are
facing a cancer diagnosis. Examples of such careers include pediatric oncology, nursing, social
work, physical therapy, occupational therapy, and biomedical research. Additional areas of study
related to fields that help children facing cancer will also be considered.
Our 2020 application process is now closed. Please check back in Spring of 2021 to find out about scholarships we are offering for the 2021-2022 school year.
Many thanks to Univest Financial for their generous sponsorship!
2020 Scholarship Recipient Of A 1 Year, Up To $5,000 Scholarship
Carlos Pena Jimenez
"When I was just 12 years old, I was diagnosed with osteosarcoma in my right knee. It came as a surprise for me because at that time I didn't know something like that was even possible, let alone that it will ever happen to me. I thought I just broke my leg because the pain started during baseball practice.But things were far more complicated than I ever thought. For over 2 weeks I was not clear what was going on. I was in bed at the hospital for 2 weeks to have many surgeries. It was a life changing experience. I was losing my mind and just wanted it to be over. There were also life problems that came that way, where we were kicked out of our apartment and needed to rely on state assistance to find a place to live. They moved us to a nearby hotel that helps with homeless families. 4 years later, I will again be diagnosed with osteosarcoma in my left femur.
There were a lot of things that motivated me through the difficult time. I didn't have much hope for my future. I wanted to keep living because there is so much that I still wanted to do and achieve. My life has been slowed down, but I am not willing to stop now. I want to spend time with my friends and family and visit places that I have never been before.
If there is a way that I hope to motivate others that are going through the same that I am going through, I want to be there for them for any need and any type of support required. I want to let them know that there are people that care about them that are willing to help them just to see them happy.
There have been a lot of challenges that I have to deal with over my time with cancer. My goal and dream is to keep moving through even in the most difficult time. But no matter the situation, there is hope for everyone to deal with cancer."
"In November 2013, at the age of 11, I began having headaches, nausea and blurred vision. I was admitted to the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia and diagnosed with two malignant brain tumors. Being diagnosed with cancer at such a young age, I understand all too well what it is like to face a life threatening illness. My experience has made me very empathetic to those facing illness and disease. I have found strengths in all the challenges I have faced and my experience has taught me resiliency and compassion.
I want to make an impact in the lives of children facing cancer by helping them have a fighting chance. I can understand what they are going through physically and emotionally and can provide them with a sense of comfort. I feel I can make a connection with children facing cancer by providing them with the utmost care, empathy, compassion and helping them cope.
My dream job was to become a math teacher. I loved math and excelled in the subject. After seeing how my nurses helped me and how grateful I was for the care they gave me, it made me realize how rewarding the job of a pediatric nurse would be. That was when my dream of becoming a math teacher changed. I realized becoming a pediatric nurse was my destiny. Going through my own experience with cancer, I realized how many children are affected by cancer. The experience makes you want to support others because you know what it is like to be on the other side. My perception of life has changed and I never take anything for granted. Even though I had cancer, I do not let it define me or deter me from my goals. Life can continue after cancer and you can do anything you set your mind to.
Six years ago I faced the unimaginable, but in 4 months I will enter college to pursue a Bachelor in Nursing degree. Upon graduation, I want to obtain a full time job and specialize in pediatric oncology. In time, I hope to continue my education by obtaining a Master's degree."
Kisses for Kyle thanks the Two or More Foundation with funding to support our scholarship program!
2019 Scholarship Recipient Of A 1 Year, Up To $10,000 Scholarship
As a child who basically lived in the hospital for most of their life, I started to have an interest in medicine at a very early age. I have distinct memories of asking my nurses and doctors tons of question regarding procedures and medications because of how fascinated I was with how the human body works and what happens with medical abnormalities or illness. I always begged the nurses to let me help them flush out my IV or start my nasogastric tube feeds whenever I could. I loved the feeling of being hands on regarding my care. Thankfully I had exceptional nurses who kept me involved and taught me how to preform very basic skills while staying in the hospital. So, when it was time to choose a career, I had no difficulty deciding that nursing was the occupation for me.
Thinking back most of the nurses who cared for me were like second mothers to me and still are. They were empathetic and kind despite working with death and sickness on a daily basis. They knew when they needed to use some tough love and when I just needed someone to hold my hand. Those amazing women are who motivate me to pressure pediatric nursing. I want to be that nurse to a child. I never want a child who I am caring for to ever doubt that they are loved and safe in my care. I hope to continue to prove quality care and be compassionate regardless of the situation just like my nurses did for me.
I recently found a quote written by Lilah Gifty Akita that struck a chord within me because it is something I’ve lived by for as long as I can remember. The quote is as followed, “Every great warrior must learn to endure and overcome adversities of life”. I’ve faced challenges that some could never imagine or handle, yet I always find a way to be resilient and overcome whatever life throughs my way; cancer being one of those things. I’ve worked extremely hard in these last three years of nursing school because I want to be the best nurse, I can possibly be for a child who is facing one of their greatest challenges. I hope that one day I will be half as good of a nurse as those who cared for me all those years ago.
2018 Scholarship Recipients, Up To $5000 Scholarships Over the Course Of Up To 4 Years
The time that I found out that i was diagnosed with cancer had been one of the hardest things for me ever. I was only 10 years old. I started off having these weird episodes and didn't know what it was. So they happened more and more so I got worried and went to my parents. My parents saw me in actions and immediately took me to the hospital. I stayed in the hospital for a few days to get tested for them. Turned out these episodes were actually seizures and that I had epilepsy. I started to read about it to get a better understanding, because I was too young to understand.
A couple months later, I went back to the hospital for a check-up and MRI. When we got home my mom told me that I was diagnosed with brain cancer. We were all devastated and it was the worst news a 10-year-old could get. I didn't know much about it but I did know that it was not good.
What motivated me the most to helping other children facing their cancer diagnosis was seeing everyone at Children's Hospital and how they worked to helped me when I was sick. As I get older and started to see other sick children almost similar to mine makes me want to help and support them along the way.
Lastly my strengths and personal attributes are friendly, hardworking, dedicated, committed, respectful, and leadership. But instead of giving up and letting my challenges defeat me I found my strengths in all of them. Epilepsy has impacted my life because, at 11 years old a doctor told my parents I would not live for more than a year, and if I did I wouldn’t make it to college due an unexpected diagnosis of two serious medical conditions, brain cancer and epilepsy. It is my goal to prove them wrong. Since then I’ve had 2 surgeries and a stroke on one side of my body during one of them. I have had many challenges and obstacles in my life from medical to physical to the death of my father and through all of these things I am learning the meaning of perseverance.
As of last year, I was fairly uncertain of my career path. Until my whole life had come to a complete stop. When I was diagnosed with stage three Hodgkin's Lymphoma on January 8, 2018. The diagnosis occurred in the middle of my senior year at Liberty High School; I was struck with confusion as I began to wonder what the rest of my life would entail. Luckily, I was assigned to the finest oncology team at St. Christopher's Children's Hospital; located in Philadelphia, PA. They presented me with my treatment plan, and thoroughly explained the emotional and physical stress that my body was about to endure. My treatment plan consisted of 4 aggressive cycles of chemotherapy and 3 weeks of radiation. My body later succumbed to the rapidly intrusive changes. First, I began losing handful-clumps of hair; then my weight, and shortly after, I lost interest in even my most cherished meals. An appetite so weak, I would gag at the very thought of food. The general pain I suffered through the treatment was just the icing on the cake. Though every reason to give up was presented, I remained optimistic and was determined to slay the Goliath that was cancer. I was persistent as I continued my education through Home Bond Instruction, and with the odds seemingly stacked against me; on June 7, 2018, I walked across that wide and sturdy stage to receive the certificate that will begin the journey that is the rest of my life. Based on this mind-opening experience, it was finally clear to me as to what career path I need to pursue. Becoming a Clinical Social Worker, specializing in Pediatric Oncology was the only way in my heart that I would be able to use my life as just one of the examples that children can use as they go through their life experiences; attempting to conquer their mountains; trying to slay their Goliath.
A major influence that drove me to want to pursue my future career path was my nursing staff at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. When I was going through my cancer treatment I became close with several of the nurses that were treating me. As I was getting close to the nurses I had learned that several of them were either childhood cancer survivors themselves or someone close to them (siblings, friends, or other family members) had childhood cancer. The nurses that had gone through cancer themselves had shared their stories with me gave me the courage and hope that I would be okay and that I would survive my cancer. Due to what these nurses gave to me by showing me the power a nurse can have over a patient’s life other than helping with their medical problems I decided that I want to be a pediatric oncology nurse. I also want to work at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. I want to able to do the same thing that they provided me with as a young cancer patient. I hope to provide a sense of comfort and understanding to children and teens going through chemotherapy. I also hope that by sharing my story of going through cancer, surviving and then succeeding in life with them will help to motivate their lives for whatever path they want to take and to give them a light that they may not have had before. Another influence that I had that pushed me towards being a pediatric nurse was my experience with the children from Kisses for Kyle. Being able to interact with teens and young children with cancer has given me a better insight then just my own experiences. Each one person taught me something about life and caring for one another that I think will help with being a pediatric nurse. I have also been able to interact with parents and siblings who are going through the battle of cancer as well with their child and brother or sister. I think this aspect will give me help with being a nurse because I will be able to communicate with the child’s parents better. I hope will also be able to help their sibling feel a little more comfortable with what is going with their brother or sister.
When I was only two years old, I was faced with one of the biggest obstacles in my life that continuously affects me every day. I was diagnosed with leukemia and battled it for three years until I was in remission. While I was relatively young and don't quite remember every aspect of my treatment, I do deal with the long-term effects as they are struggles that I still battle with every day. It has given me a different perspective on life.
One thing I learned from this experience is that life should never be taken for granted and that I should always be grateful for the things I have and people in my life. People often forget that the person undergoing treatment for cancer isn't the only one who is affected. My family was put through a lot, beyond the financial aspect of it all. My Mom had to quit her ob so she could stay with me in the hospital and take care of me. My Doctor would make her leave the room when she would cry because he didn't want me to see her upset. My sisters stayed at relatives and family friends homes while I was in the hospital because my Dad worked full time and he was never home to take care of them. Looking back now, I realize how their lives were also changed dramatically. I am extremely grateful and appreciative to have my family by my side which I feel most people take for granted. This is something I will always try to keep in mind when I'm going through difficult times in my life.
Having cancer has always reminded me to not worry about the little things in life and even the things some people consider big. When I hear people complaining about things such as a broken arm or wisdom teeth they had pulled, it doesn't have the same effect on me as it does to others. Some people say I seem unsympathetic, but after living through my diagnosis and treatment, it has changed my views of many things. A lot of people don't realize that those things are just little things and that's why I don't let it bother me when people say things like that.
My experiences have also made me very empathetic to those who have severe diseases or illnesses. Many people don't know the impact of these circumstances and it is a different sense of feeling or connection when you can personally relate to what someone else is going through. When people try to say they understand, they actually have no idea what it's like because you truly don't understand something unless it happens to you. This is why I hope one day I will be very successful in what I do so I can help inspire those who are going through a difficult time in their life and show them they can do whatever they set their mind to.
Most people don't realize there are "late effects" from cancer treatment that does affect you the rest of your life. The hardest one for me to deal with was not being able to focus in school, because of my ADD, and struggling for hours to find the words to write a couple sentences. When I was in middle school, I never thought I'd be smart enough to get into any college or be successful in anything. Luckily, I have an amazing Mom who didn't let me give up on myself, pushed me everyday, and fought to get me the help I needed at school so I could be successful. I'm proud of myself for pushing through because I ended up being accepted to every college I applied to and know now I'm capable of anything. I believe there is a reason I survived from cancer and I try to remind myself that I am blessed for the second chance at life that I was given because not everyone is as lucky. I think having cancer has made me a much stronger, wiser, and appreciative person in every obstacle I face.