by LINDA FRABL | photos by Soul of Photography

Embracing the Positive

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Kira Stanley had been living the life of a typical Encinitas teenager by attending La Costa Canyon High School, surfing the local waves, and working at Concept Surf Shop. Then shortly before her 16th birthday last year, Kira was experiencing headaches, double vision, and a sense of being off balance. After numerous visits to various doctors, Kira was finally diagnosed with Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Glioma (DIPG), a rare pediatric brain cancer.

Eerily, Kira had a premonition of her condition. “I joked about it before I was diagnosed by saying, ‘I hope it’s not a brain tumor!’, so when I found out that’s what it actually was, I wasn’t surprised,” she explained. “I already had an instinct about it.”

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Name: Kira Stanley
Community: Encinitas
School: La Costa Canyon High School
Grade: 12 in the fall
Parents: Wendy and Robert Stanley
Sibling: Sister – Zane (18)
Hobbies & Interests: Surfing and music
Favorite Spot in Encinitas: Moonlight Beach


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Practically overnight, Kira’s life dramatically changed. She is now homeschooled, she can’t surf, she can’t go out with her friends as much, she requires more supervision, and she must spend a lot of time in the hospital. Kira has also changed her diet, and now avoids all sugar, gluten, and dairy products.

Rather than dwelling on the negative aspects of her circumstances, however, Kira has instead embraced the positive elements. She proclaimed, “I have learned to appreciate life. Small problems aren’t as big anymore, and situations can always be worse. Also, more people seem interested in me now. They talk to me more, and seem to know who I am.”

In the future, Kira would like to create her own nonprofit organization to spread awareness about brain cancer. She revealed, “I want to be the voice of the kids who can’t communicate, or who are too young to really express themselves.” Kira also hopes to attend college and perhaps pursue a career in real estate, following in the footsteps of her aunt and grandmother who are both in that profession.

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“Small problems aren’t as big anymore, and situations can always be worse.”

When her treatment concludes and she is allowed more freedom, Kira can’t wait to get back to the simple pleasures of teenage life. She elaborated, “I’m looking forward to surfing, driving, and just being able to go out with my friends and be more than 30 minutes away from my parents. This whole situation has made me rethink my goals, but I’m so thankful for the entire community. Everyone has been so supportive!”