PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Wednesday will mark our 16th annual Alex Scott: A Stand For Hope Telethon to raise money in the fight against childhood cancer. The foundation is all about hope, offering hope to families through research into new treatments and cures, hope in the form of a helping hand during the toughest times.
And for one young man, hope that he can be like Alex.
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“Mainly because of my teacher,” Yash Krishnan said. “Wait, cut that out, I don’t know if my teacher’s gonna watch this.”
Meet 14-year Yash Krishnan. He’s whip-smart, funny, inquisitive, caring, and as you just saw, like most teens, is keenly aware of what he probably shouldn’t say in certain circles.
But the reason we’re introducing you to Yash is because he’s as special and as selfless as they come due to some unforeseen circumstances.
“When he was 8 years old, he had major surgery where they took out his colon and they found out some of them were cancerous, so they took it all out, “Parvathy Krishnan, his mother said. “And then when they did genetic testing again, they said, ‘Something doesn’t add up.’”
That major surgery at age 8 came four years after his parents first took him to a doctor after noticing some blood in his stools. It began a litany of scans and scopes, seeing different doctors at different facilities, discovering pre-cancerous polyps, and all culminating in that surgery and the subsequent genetic testing, which revealed that he has a rare condition known as constitutional mismatch repair deficiency, or CMMRD.
It means that he’s at an alarmingly high risk of developing cancer, and he’s the only known child on the planet currently with this condition.
“So, we learned and it’s been a journey since then,” Parvathy Krishnan said. “His sister at that time was two-and-a-half and she was also tested, and she also came back positive with the same condition with both genes. So at two-and-a-half when they did her first scope, they actually took out three cancerous polyps from her colon as well.”
Sadly and tragically, at just 4-years-old, Ira Krishnan, who had CMMRD, in addition to three other rare diseases, died.
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Picking up the pieces from that heartbreak, Parvathy and her husband, Iyer, forged forward in their own way, so did Yash.
“Once I actually had my procedure I realized I didn’t need to ask anymore how it was going to take,” Yash said. “Once I realized, that even when I recovered this was not going to go away, like it was always going to be long-lasting effects. So I decided from then on that I would for the rest of my life raise as much money for other people and other cancers. Because once I go, even if CMMRD cannot be cured, maybe some other form of cancer could.”
Yash has worked to raise awareness and funds in his native North Carolina, but the family was especially happy to work with Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation for Childhood Cancer, with Alex serving as a source of inspiration for Yash.
“Definitely, I never met her, but reading her story, it also really got to me a lot,” Yash said.
“We’ve been ambassadors for the Alex’s Lemonade Stand because we feel like thinking holistically,” Parvathy Krishnan said. “They’re not only thinking of lung cancer, one diagnosis, they are working hard to support all pediatric cancers and families, and so I think that was one of the reasons we started working with them and partnering with them.”
Yash’s favorite subject in school is math, and he wants to be a surgeon when he grows up. He believes they help the most people, and that’s what he wants to do.
Wise and kind, Yash is also self-deprecating. We tried to compliment him about his wisdom, but he wasn’t having it.
“I don’t know about that one,” he said.
Such an amazing young man.
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You can help kids like Yash during our 16th Annual Alex Scott: A Stand For Hope Telethon on Wednesday from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m.