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‘This is what it’s like to be a hero:’ Kentucky boy with terminal cancer named police chief for a day

JEFFERSONTOWN, Ky. (WDRB/CNN) — An 8-year-old Kentucky boy is battling a rare, terminal cancer and his city surprised him — naming him police chief for a day.

“I want to go above and beyond. He deserves anything and everything,” said Brandon Gwynn, a Jeffersontown police officer.

Each day at its best. But when you’re 8 years old, and doctors say your days are few, these minutes and moments just matter more.

“It was much more serious than we thought,” Kristen Mackin, the boy’s mother, said.

Kyler Buckner

A tumor spidered over Kyler Buckner’s brain stem. It is a rare, pediatric cancer; no cure, no effective treatment — the kind no child survives.

“It’s so hard to have a kid that’s running around and playing and just enjoying life and being so silly. And then next day he can’t walk. He can’t feed himself. He can’t go the bathroom. And it’s just like you just don’t know,” said Mackin. “You just don’t know that this is possible until you walk in those shoes. And then you’re just heartbroken that it has to happen to anybody and you’re devastated that your child is one of those.”

From K-9s to firearms and true detective work with his brother, Jakob, and Assistant Chief at his side, police did everything they could to make this moment one of Kyler’s best.

And it wasn’t just training for the new recruit. Day one had a very real police run. On Kyler’s way to the station, there was a crash with injuries and an infant.

“He kind of looked up at me and said, ‘Is this real,'” Gwynn said. “I said, ‘Kyler, this is what it’s like to be a hero.’

“You don’t get picked or chosen to do certain things, you just go act.”

You don’t get picked or chosen for cancer, either. And the kind Kyler has kills most kids in less than a year.

“We just live day to day. Live and laugh and love and enjoy what time we have because nobody knows how long,” Mackin said.

Each moment, every day, at its best.

“The smile’s never left his face,” said Mackin.

Kyler and his family will travel soon to San Francisco for an experimental treatment that will put chemo directly into his brain stem.

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