Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine
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Charlie’s Story is his Family’s Story

Charlie  collage “This celebration highlights the best of our lives.”

June 7, 2020 marked an important milestone for 15-year-old Charlie  and his family. For months, they’d been planning to celebrate Charlie’s 15th “cancerversary” as a retinoblastoma survivor at their 15th Cancer Survivors’ Celebration Walk & 5K.

When he was just nine months old, Charlie was diagnosed with retinoblastoma, a rare cancer of the retina. Although he doesn’t remember his chemotherapy treatment at Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago, or the surgery to remove his affected eye, he understands why his parents will never forget.

In 2006, Charlie’s parents did the walking at their first Cancer Survivors’ Walk, pushing Charlie and his sister in a stroller along the lakefront. They haven’t missed a year since. In addition to his parents and sisters, Grace and Audrey, Charlie’s team includes his grandparents, aunts and uncles, friends and neighbors. His great-grandmother, a cancer survivor, herself, wears her own purple shirt when she joins them at the Walk. 

When this year’s Cancer Survivors’ Celebration became a virtual event, there was no question that they would all come together, while practicing social distancing; sharing stories, photos, and a walk through the neighborhood to make Charlie’s milestone celebration a day to remember.

“The Walk has always been a fun way to give my son a positive community that lifts each other up,” says his mother, Sarah. “It renews our perspective each year to know how blessed we really are! This celebration highlights the best of our lives.”

“It’s the one day that I look forward to every summer,” adds Charlie’s father, also named Charlie. “It shuts off all the noise and helps me focus on what really matters. It is truly my favorite day of the year. Nothing but LOVE!”