David Wilkie, his wife, and three children smile for a family photo on a Fall day.
Photo credit: King Photography

"Hell, we were scared": A Family Cancer Journey

When David Wilkie of Smithfield was diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer in October 2021, he and his wife Jessica didn’t know how they were going to tell their children. “You know they’re going to be scared,” David, 53, said. “Hell, we were scared.” Shortly after his diagnosis, Hannah Sasser, a certified child life specialist with the Duke Cancer Patient Support Program, reached out. She helped Maxwell, 9, and Eva, 8, understand what their mom and dad were going through. She also connected the family with KidsCan!, a monthly virtual support group for children whose parents have cancer.

“It made it a whole lot easier to talk to the kids about what’s going on,” Jessica said. “The people facilitating KidsCan! are doing a great job answering their questions. It takes a lot of pressure off us.”