RICHMOND, Va. – An exhibit in Virginia is raising awareness about childhood cancer while honoring the brave warriors and survivors during National Childhood Cancer Awareness Month.
The 19th annual Kourageous Kids exhibition, a program of the ASK Childhood Cancer Foundation, was unveiled Sunday evening during party at the Children’s Museum of Richmond.
Friends and families of the Central Virginia children and teens featured in this year’s exhibit attended the portrait unveiling.
Lancaster County teen with cancer 'didn’t want anyone to pity him'
Berkley Kellum, who was diagnosed with cancer in July 2018 and who is featured in the exhibit, will start his sophomore year of school late this week because he is still going through chemotherapy.
The Lancaster County teen's parents, Brandon and Kelly Kellum, shared the first warning sign of his illness.
“He had just had braces tightened so we thought it was that,” Kelly Kellum said. “About a week later he started with some swelling. Long story short, he had a biopsy which showed Langerhans cell histiocytosis. They call it LCH for short. It’s a type of cancer.”
The family was in shock after the diagnosis.
“You get this diagnosis, and it turns your whole world around,” Kelly Kellum said. "The first thing he said is, he didn’t want anyone to pity him. He was going to be fine.”
His parents said that while Berkley takes a "handful of pills" and deals with daily pain, he fights through it.
"Getting up out of the bed in the morning is really bad," Berkley explained. "Most of the time it takes me a few moments to get up and start walking and be able to walk, because I have so many problems with my joints and my muscles."
Kelly Kellum said that while her son "missed 50 something days of school last year," he "manages to do anything he possibly wants to do."
In fact, Berkley is discovering some new sports after he had to stop contact sports, like wrestling.
"When I got diagnosed, I had to switch it all up because I couldn’t do the things I once did," he said.
But as a result, he has taken up swimming and corn hole with his friends.
"I’ve been trying to not let it slow me down at all," Berkley said. "I’ve been keeping up straight As, keeping good grades in school, staying out of trouble, just like I did before. Just trying to not let it bother me."
Berkley: Exhibit is 'once-in-a-lifetime' experience
While the family grapples with constant worry, they said the support they have received from the community, like being included in the Kourageous Kids exhibition, has been comforting.
"Just being able to see other kids and people who understand and know what’s going on, what you’re going through, it’s very helpful," Berkley said.
Berkley called having his portrait taken and featured in the exhibit was a "once-in-a-lifetime" experience.
"I saw it up there and it’s like, you know it’s coming to an end and I’ll be doing with everything and go back to being me,” he said. “It was really cool."
His parents said raising awareness is critical in the fight against cancer.
“It’s very important to us because it can happen to anybody at any time,” Kelly Kellum said.
Where you can see the Kourageous Kids exhibition
The exhibit will be on display at:
- The Children’s Museum of Richmond from Sept. 8 - 16
- SunTrust Building, Cafeteria Level from Sept. 16 - 23
- The Children’s Hospital of Richmond Pavilion from Sept. 23 - 30
Click here if you would like to volunteer, make a donation or learn more about the ASK Childhood Cancer Foundation or the Kourageous Kids exhibition.