An Ohio man sat by the side of his 6-year-old daughter as she fought for her life. Ultimately, she lost her battle with brain cancer, but she made her father promise one thing before dying in his arms. He made it his mission to fulfill that promise and more.
Burying a child is a parent’s worst nightmare. They pour their heart and souls into their children, and if deadly misfortune strikes, a little part of the parent dies as well.
Doug Kirchner, 41, of Akron, Ohio, was forced to live through this nightmare. His daughter, Skyler Nicole, was 6 years old when she received a devastating diagnosis. Doctors informed Skylar’s family she had brain cancer. Four years after her initial diagnosis, Skylar seemed to beat brain cancer. The tumor recessed, and she was “cleared” to live life as an average child once again—according to a Facebook group created in her memory.
Another five, relatively healthy, years passed. Skylar enjoyed childhood the same as her peers, with one exception. She needed regular MRI scans to ensure the cancer was not returning. On Oct. 27, 2010, Skylar went in for what was supposed to be her last MRI of the year, or so they thought. To everyone’s dismay, doctors saw something strange—it was another tumor, which doctors wanted to monitor closely.
Skylar went back to the hospital for another MRI on Dec. 27 the same year, and received more bad news: The tumor had grown. On Jan. 3, 2011, Skylar underwent brain surgery, and on Jan. 7, doctors determined she had stage three–four astrocytoma glioma.
Sadly, Nov. 11, 2011, was Skylar’s last day on earth. “We decided to live life as much as we could in that short amount of time and when she passed, it was, I’ve never seen anybody pass just with such grace,” Doug said in an interview with FOX59.
Before dying in his arms, Skylar made her father promise one thing: to go back to school and receive a high school diploma. In the 9th grade, Doug had dropped out of Valley Forge High School. But, in July of 2012, Doug fulfilled the promise he made to his baby girl. With the help of Summit County’s Project Learn, Doug received his GED. However, he did not stop there—he decided to take his promise one step further.
On Dec. 16, 2017, Doug received his Bachelor degree in applied conflict management, and a minor in criminal justice from Kent State University. Doug often ponders what his little girl would say about his accomplishments. He believes “[Skylar] was just a little kid when she passed, but I think she would say I knew you could do it.”
Doug remarried and now has three young boys, but he says: “As life has moved on not a day goes by that we don’t cry and think of her. Please hug your kids and love on them extra today, life can change in an instant!”
Photo Credit: Video Screenshot | Littlethings.