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Krisanna’s Story

       "Have a bright sunshiny yellow day!"

                                Krisanna Roberts

On May 26, 2009, 14 year old Krisanna celebrated graduation:  an MRI showed that the tumor bed remained stable following a 2004 gamma knife procedure on her third brain tumor, so she graduated to annual check-ups at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.  

Merely two weeks later, an MRI revealed that a tumor at the base of her spine was the source of pain she had been experiencing for a month as sixth grade wound down and the promise of summer beckoned.  She returned to Memphis for the summer.

For eleven years Krisanna Roberts battled an aggressive brain tumor called an Atypical Teratoid Rhabdoid Tumor.  She was St. Jude’s longest surviving AT/RT patient. The tumor first presented in the brain and returned twice following initial occurrence and treatment.  The fourth occurrence was the first time the tumor had presented in the spine.

Krisanna’s spirit and determination soared as she began what she called her “summer vacation at her home away from home” at Target House.  Arts and crafts was the name of the game ... and assigning each day a color unveiled the infinite spectrum of yellow for this pink and purple-loving princess.  In August, she returned home to Mobile, Alabama with big plans for seventh grade. 

On Septermber 1, Krisanna's spine scan showed that radiation had not reduced the tumor.  Hoping that long-term effects would reduce the size, Krisanna returned to school.  However, by the 3rd week of September, daily headaches, nausea, and emesis limited her activities.  By mid-October, she was in constant pain, eating little, and often dehydrated which home hospital visits helped only minimally.  We returned to St. Jude October 26 for a brain scan.

Shockingly, the scan revealed that the tumor had returned with a vengeance.  It covered her brain, and there were no medical options left.  Krisanna, however, didn't give up. She still had a lot of living to do!  With her Pollyanna spirit, she made big plans and celebrated every single day -- even the last in her hospital bed. She died in her "home away from home" on November 4, 2009.

Latest Journal Update

Seeing the signs.....


At 2:00 this morning, I kept playing replaying a moment I wrote about exactly that time, exactly this day and date, six years ago:

Krisanna had a great day yesterday … mostly pain-free and those times she began to experience any pain we were able to control. She told us of some angels calling her up and called for her daddy to lift her up to them. She told someone she had to ask me first but I had play practice. She got to choose something beautiful … we don’t know what, but she kept asking, “Which one?” and when I told her “Whichever one you want” an absolutely beautiful smile lit up her face. Then after a few minutes she said, “Mom. We have to find the ipod.” She wanted to listen to some music and was right back with us in the here and now.

Why would she want to leave?  She believes with every fiber of her being that Mr. God will come in the door and put his hand on her forehead and make it all go away, and she can’t figure out why He hasn’t done it yet.So, while the angels are calling her to some beautiful great place where she will not need her rolling chair or her brace and her hair will be long and luxurious, Mr. God is going to have to come up with something really really enticing together to choose it over the three of us together at St. Jude’s and her exciting life plans.

Actually, I’ve replayed all of that quite a bit in the past couple of weeks. On the 25th, six years to the day and date that Krisanna and I drove to St. Jude the last time with Dandy the Lion at her side, our gospel reading was the story from Mark about Bartimaeus. When Bartimaeus asked to see again, Christ answered, “Go; your faith has made you well.”  Then our guest priest encouraged us to open our eyes to God’s signs.

So I’ve kneaded his message and that story...and Krisanna’s story…and the story that inspired her about the lady with the disease from an earlier Mark account…which led me to the little girl who He brought back to life. And, as always, I kneaded the idea that the lady had been sick for 12 years–the same as Krisanna. The little girl was 12 – the same number of years Krisanna had been fighting ATRT. They all believed with every fiber of their beings … and so, they were healed. I grappled with the stories and asked what was the sign? What was I supposed to take away from these stories that are so interwoven in Krisanna’s story when these very stories inspired my girl to believe as the figures believed, yet she is not still here? 

The following week, on the 1st, our readings were from Revelations and from John’s gospel. The Revelations verse “Mourning and crying and pain will be no more” resonated loudly. I eagerly embraced it knowing that we all prayed that Krisanna would feel no pain or misery in her final journey. When she asked, “Mama won’t you miss me?” I tried to tell her how much without crying. Instead I reverted to telling her that I didn’t want her to hurt anymore and that in heaven she would be so happy and carefree – no cancer, no brace, no wheelchair, no pain – physical or emotional. As those scenes from the past replayed (like they ever go away), I held onto the final line of the reading, “I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end.” 

Since this day six years ago, I have clung to the connection between 15 and O.  O – the line with no beginning or end – is the 15th letter of the alphabet. Krisanna was 15 when she died. The numbers of her end on earth and beginning in heaven birthday  – 11.04 – add to 15.  She was a member of the class of 2015.  And now here, in 2015, when the dates align exactly with 2009, and the sadness is far more powerful than I ever anticipated, Mr. God is sending me these confusing messages about believing leading to healing - but my girl believed and she wasn’t healed. 

Then, from John we heard the story of Lazarus. Again, Christ raised a believer from the dead. He said to Mary, “Did I not tell you that if you believed, you would see the glory of God?”  

And there it was. My really big sign. Krisanna was healed. Not in the way she or I asked for – but she is definitely healed! As I wrote November 5, 2009, "What is the most vibrant, lively, smiling yellow? Because today is that day! Krisanna is running, jumping, singing, doing gymnastics, riding a bike, riding a horse, cooking ….. and she is most probably telling Mr. God all her ideas of how to fix the earth even as I write. Krisanna believed so she sees the glory of Mr. God.

This morning, I posted about the “Easter” rose that bloomed in my yard last week: I prayed so hard that Krisanna would visit me in my dreams.  She didn’t … but as I headed to work one of those mornings, I saw her waving at me in my front yard!  Just one more reminder that when Mr. God doesn’t give us what we ask for, He’s got something even better.  I wanted a sign; I thought I wanted it in my dreams.  Yet Mr. God knows I can’t photograph a dream and share it with others who believe in signs!

All day I’ve thought about the signs He sends - opportunities to trust His plan.  The yellow rose out of season telling me hi. The people who say they thought of Krisanna when they donned yellow clothing or accessories. The anniversary dates of our journey on which I see lots and lots of yellow. The photos of yellow cars & trucks, fields of flowers, pictures of tulips, gladiolas, and smiling rainbows that people send me because Krisanna popped in their heads. People who never knew her building a garden in her honor or walking to raise money for St. Jude’s. The Yellow Day movie that captures her spirit of determination and love of life. Her nudges – as Melissa calls them.  For example, Tuesday night Krisanna kept nudging me to go to Michael’s.  My head kept telling myself that I needed nothing from Michael’s; my middle kept telling my head I should go. Eventually, I caved. There, most unexpectedly, I saw one of her friends who was home from college. Truly - a happy sign!

Finally, I went to a store my sisters and I visit every year on today. I thought I was returning to check on a yellow chair I’d seen there over the weekend; I soon realized I was there for a different sign. When I walked in, I saw a precious Disney Simba doll next to the item!  Really? Today? Lion King’s Simba?  How had I missed it the first time? Everyone who knows us or reads Caringbridge understands what Lion King means to me and meant to Krisanna. The movie that startled her in utero - the very beginning. Her Ganz Lion, Dandy, that she chose to take on our last trip - that sat guarding her in hospital to the end. Immediately I took Simba to the counter where the owner said, “I just put this out yesterday.” Oh thank you! You see, I thought the yellow chair was the sign.  Instead, the yellow chair was there to bring me back for a bigger sign - a lion cub doll reminding me of the most powerful message from that incredible story:

Wait, there's no mountain too great
Hear these words and have faith …..

He lives in you, he lives in me
He watches over everything we see.

And just to seal it as a sign ~ the date on the check was 11.04.15.  Alpha.Omega  :-)

Wishing everyone continued days of bright yellow sunshine ~


10 people hearted this



mick beisel
By Mick Beisel
"Terrific, how are you you?"

That says it all in my book... in the face of so much fear and unknowns, Krisanna's faith and positive attitude encourage us all to be grateful for what we have in the present. I will never forget the gum ball story at The Harding Academy Art Show. Krisanna put a nickel or a dime into a gum ball machine and nothing came out. Of course we all felt bad for her. Krisanna's immediate response to everyone was, "you know, sometimes you get 2 gum balls uncle Mick!"

That's something I will never forget.

What a blessing for all of us. Maybe today, you too ... will get 2 gum balls! :)

Thank you for your omnipresent positive attitude, Krisanna.

Love You,

Unca Mick
1 person hearted this
Susan Holsombeck
By Susan Holsombeck
Wow Laura!!!! I was thinking and praying for you as I remembered precious Krisanna on 11-4. That was my father's Bday . I don't know it I ever told you... 2 days before Krisanna went to be with Mr. God, I prayed several times for Krisanna to see angels to help you and Krisanna . I am so joyful to hear the inspiring stories about Krisanna! Each time I see "Simba" and the color "yellow" I think of your precious daughter!!
2 people hearted this
Debra Reynolds
By Debbie Reynolds
Thank you Laura.
1 person hearted this
Kelly Darling
Her strength and Kerage continue to inspire me everyday. Xoxo. Aunt Kelly
1 person hearted this
Anne Smith
By Anne Smith
Krisanna's kerage and loving spirit have helped heal those of us who have mourned her loss. What a great and wonderful gift she was.
Love you.
1 person hearted this
shannon beisel
By Aunt Shannon
thank you for sharing your beautiful memories

we love you
1 person hearted this
Stephanie Rogers
By Stephanie
Healing and miracles and signs almost never take the form we expect, almost never match our definition of them. And they are often so much more because of it. It is such a yellow world. I love you.
1 person hearted this
Colette Herring-Compton
By Colette
Hi Sweetie,
These messages are so beautiful to read. I always feel like you are sitting right next to me and I can hear your voice as I read it.
Interesting Bout the numbers--I have long believed in connections with numbers.
Love you and miss you.
If we ever get a house, you must come visit,
PS--Oddly, I found a photo (ballet) with Krisanna). Stoney had gone out to the garage to look for something and brought back a little tin box with photos.
There it was--one I did not remember seeing.
I'm usually not up this late. Had gone to bed but decided to get up since I could not sleep.
...and here you are sitting up with me.
I'll scan the photo and send it to you. <3
1 person hearted this
Mollie Bell
By Mollie Bell
You never fail to amaze me! I love this post! I have said to people that I now pray for healing on earth! I prayed so hard and Ad and Day prayed so hard for healing. Constant prayer! We talked tonight about the night you left my house before y'all went back to St. Jude the last time. The kids wanted a popsicle and Krisanna licked hers once and put it down on the table. I still remember just watching it melt and she kept saying she wanted it but she was too busy trying to be lively and talk to us even though she was so tired and it was night time. I remember thinking she's left here 3 times before when they gave no hope for her. I thought for sure you would call to say there is yet one more thing they are going to try! When y'all left Krisanna gave each of us the tightest hug ever, tighter than usual. It was like she knew all along, she knew she didn't have time for popsicles or wasting these minutes, she needed to speak to us and hug us all as tight as she could so we would never forget that out of breath feeling she could give with those hugs. Big David still tears up remembering that he knew it was his last hug from her. I still thought there was more. I pray a lot more specifically now. It definitely seems like I found out the hard way that yes, my beautiful Dollface was definitely healed I just didn't know that healing would come in heaven! That was not what I thought I was praying for but I do believe that God answers our prayers and nothing is too great or small to ask and I make sure I am a lot more clear now! I guess I wasn't supposed to be more clear because God already knew where Krisanna's healing was going to take place by that time. So I guess I need to be clearer and start earlier with specific prayers. That baby girl taught me way more than she ever even imagined!!! Love you to pieces!
2 people hearted this