Kids Battling Cancer Star In NorthPark Center Photo Exhibit: ‘What I Want To Be When I Grow Up’
Jaxon Starling was a middle school sprinter, until the doctor called the day after Christmas 2019.
“We were dealing with this pain in his leg, an ache that continued to worsen,” explains his mother, Shay Roberts. “And then to find out it’s cancer? It’s like it’s a parent’s worst nightmare.”
The Frisco teen had been diagnosed with stage four osteosarcoma– a bone cancer that had already began to spread.
“It’s been a little rough,” admits Jaxon in a quiet voice– a combination of typical teenage shyness and the chemotherapy. “Not feeling that well.”
When the family stopped reeling long enough to realize that the nightmare was real– Wipe Out Kids Cancer was there.
The nonprofit provides resources for families, fundraising for research, and right now a unique photo exhibit at North Park Center aims to raise awareness.
“You have these kids who are sick.. .but they also have futures, and they have goals,” says Aashik Khakoo, CEO, Wipe Out Kids’ Cancer. “It’s all about ‘what I want to do when I grow up’? How can we help them grow up?”
Cindy Brinker Simmons is the Founder of WOKC and is the exhibit co-chair, along with volunteer Karee Sampson.
Photographer Marc Robins donated his artistry to provide the portraits.
And they all know that the impact goes beyond the pictures.
“It really brightened him up,” says Roberts of her son Jaxon. “I’m looking and in awe and he’s smiling and has the biggest grin on his face. It’s really uplifting for them. I just think it really gives them the courage to keep going.”
Khakoo says he considers all the children featured in the exhibit “his kids” and encourages North Texans to get involved.
“How can we help them grow up? They need help with resources, they need help with research, they need help getting through this battle! And do we have to wait until it’s our child to be in action? I say ‘no’.”
Jaxon was thrilled to be included in the exhibit, and says he wants “to be a graphic designer and an actor.”
And his mom had this to say about the cancer that threatens to stand in his way.
“Stage four cancer. I know there’s a God and I know he is a miracle worker,” explains Roberts. “I’ve seen him do it and my faith is strong enough to believe he can do it for Jaxon.”
So, while they wait for their miracle, she’s encouraging North Park shoppers to take a moment. And take in the power of tomorrow’s dreams.
“It will make you cry,” she warns, “if you have any feeling at all for kids… it will bring you to tears.”
The “When I Grow Up” warrior portraits will be on display until Sunday in on the lower level of NorthPark Center between Neiman Marcus and Nordstrom’s.