Child Life, Professional Development

Kiss & Cry: A few life lessons

Carley Elle Allison

Kiss and cry is a term that describes the area or box that ice skaters exit to after performing.  It’s referred to as this because figure skaters and their trainers will often kiss each other after great performances, and cry together after a bad performance.

Cancer also has this kiss and cry area.  Cancer has good performances where everyone kisses and hugs each other, and sometimes cancer brings bad performances and tears are shed. The story I’m sharing with you all today follows a young figure ice skater and aspiring singer, Carley Elle Allison.  She left behind a legacy and way of life that only someone in her shoes can share with us.

The only time you should ever look back, is to see how far you’ve come.

So often we get caught up in everything that’s going wrong in life, we forget to relish in what’s going right.  However, Carley Allison seemed to live by looking on the bright side of things despite going through a diagnosis, chemotherapy, blood transfusions.  Not to forget the side effects of chemo that she lived through like nausea, vomiting, hair loss, weight loss, and so much more.  But even through all of her own ups and downs, her mother stated in an interview that Carley never once asked, “Why me?” or “Why did have to get cancer?”

Always smile

Carley seemed to be big on pinky promises.  She always wanted everyone to keep on smiling. Don’t ever stop smiling. No matter what happens or how low the lows get. Through her struggles, she continued to smile whether she was getting a chemo treatment or practicing on the ice.  A very simple reminder that may very well change how we view our own lives… If we just smile.


As a future professional hoping to work with children and adolescents suffering from terminal illnesses like cancer, I take away quite a few life lessons from Carley’s story that I hope to use moving forward in the field of Child Life

[Don’t be afraid to show my own emotion to patients and their families]

I don’t have to pretend I’m perfect or unaffected or STRONGER than the toughest metal on earth. I’m a human. I’m imperfect. I’m normal. I don’t  always need to have my full body suit of armor on 24/7 in front of others.  Granted, I hope to never, ever “ball my eyes out” in front of a patient and their family! However, I think it’s realistic to expect that I will become emotional at some point. And that is okay. There is nothing wrong with a few tears.

[Continue to fiercely love the others around me]

Carley seemed to exemplify this precisely.  I hope to bring this same kind of love into the field of Child Life, so much so, that my patients can feel the passion I will have for helping them and for carrying out my duties as a future Child Life Specialist.  Love and compassion embodies family-centered care.  These characteristics can change outcomes on recovery.  Love is powerful. Compassion is necessary.

[I don’t always have to have all the right answers… Or even any answers at all]

Wait. What? I don’t have to have all the answers? Nope. Remember that first bold statement? I’m human. My patient might react differently to a treatment I’ve seen used a hundred times before.  That other patient might abhor the smell of that jello I just brought her, even though the patient next door absolutely loved it. And those are just some of the little things.  I might not know everything about cancer. I probably won’t know precisely how to answer every single question every time. But what I do know right now, is that I will never stop trying to find all the right information, and relay as much of my knowledge in the best approach possible to each individual patient. That is the key to finding the answers.


Raymond James Canada Foundation – Carley’s Angels

Team Carley

Interview with Riley Allison (Carley’s big sister) – Carley’s Angels


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