People of Compassion Can Change the Trajectory of Children’s Cancer – A CureSearch Volunteer’s Perspective

“Everyone has something to contribute. When we’re faced with something painful or difficult, we may feel overwhelmed and powerless to do anything. I know that by participating in the CureSearch Ultimate Hike, I am doing something very important,” shared Katie Oursler. 

Katie Oursler, Canaan Valley Ultimate Hike, 2019

When Katie was in graduate school, she spotted a Facebook ad for the Ultimate Hike (UH). An avid hiker, she knew that she wanted to be part of it. She completed the 2019 Canaan Valley Ultimate Hike in West Virginia, trekking 21 miles. Now, she is looking forward to the 2021 Shenandoah hike on May 15 and plans to start training soon.   

The sense of community from the hike is so strongIt brings together people of compassion all backgrounds: doctors, nurses, researchers, kids, families, friends and individuals who care about children with cancer. And I know first-hand how great the need is to find new treatments and cures.” 

As a Child Life Specialist at Children’s National Hospital in Washington, DC, Katie helps children and families cope with illness and loss, throughout their treatment. Working in the hematology and oncology units, she teaches kids about their bodies, the hospital and the procedures they experience. “The biggest satisfaction I get is when I work with a child. I can see how stressed out they are before a procedure. I offer what I can give, explaining what they are going to see, taste and smell, and I answer any questions they may have. It helps to put them at ease. Then, we try to play and have some fun.” 

On a daily basis, Katie sees the need to find better, less-toxic treatments, tailored to children’s bodies. She wishes that more people could have an understanding of what children and families go through. “I see kids at the beginning, middle and end of their of their treatment. They may be remission or at the end of life. I see how much their bodies can change from the disease, how the cancer attacks the body and the debilitating side effects that medications can have. It’s hard to see a child who should be running around and playing outside, who has to live hooked up to tubes in a hospital.” 

That’s why Katie encourages everyone to participate in finding the cures. “We may think that what we have to offer is small in the scheme of things, but our gifts and talents are important—whether that’s fundraising, organizing, research, interpersonal skills, communications or hiking a trail. Everyone can bring something to the table and make a difference.” 

To get involved in one of our CureSearch events and make a difference in the lives of kids with cancer visit


About CureSearch 

CureSearch for Children’s Cancer works to end childhood cancer by driving targeted and innovative research with measurable results in an accelerated time frame. CureSearch focuses on advancing the strongest research out of the laboratory and into clinical trials and development, where better, less-toxic treatments can quickly help children. 

For more information, visit, follow CureSearch on Twitter @curesearch or join the conversation on Facebook at

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