Meet Caroline: A childhood leukemia survivor

VIDEO | 03:57

Hear from Caroline as she celebrates her high school graduation.

Show transcript


(SINGING) Broken down and tired of living life on every--

I am so eternally grateful to be able to sit here today and say I'm graduating. To be able to have graduated high school when the road to there was very difficult. It just makes me smile so much. And then the fact that Memorial Sloan Kettering does a graduation, it just warms my whole heart and more. I had acute myelogenous leukemia, also known as AML, which is really, really rare in children. And I only had about 50% chance of survival.

I don't think anybody can prepare you for that. When you get diagnosed with cancer, it really affects the whole family. And you just rely on the people around you.

What could be the most difficult thing for any human being? It's to have your child ill, your child sick like this. I cannot imagine anything tougher than this in life. But that's what makes this family very special, is that they stayed close as an entire family. And whatever Caroline went through, they all went through at the same time. It's beautiful.

To say that she could go from that very low chance of survival to singing at Sloan Kettering, that's just like a miracle.

My mom always cries when she talks about it. I just didn't understand how sick I was. I think I was kind of like, I'm just not feeling well. But I definitely think the turning point was probably when we found out I could have a bone marrow transplant, and that my sister Lisette who was four at the time, was not just a match, but a perfect match. And that's incredibly hard to find. And so I think that moment was really when my family was like, it's going to be OK.

This event, this is a graduation. But it's so much more. It's honoring this experience, to rise above that. It's a part of them, not all of them.


In that moment when she sang, I thought I was going to just fall apart, of joy, of emotion, of happiness.

Seeing how much she's grown, how much love she has for life, you could feel a burst of like (makes air sound). That's her entry to the world. And that kind of strength, I just have so much pride and joy seeing that.