The Regrettable Education of Michael Buble

Upon hearing the news of his son’s cancer diagnosis, my heart immediately went out to this man I have never met and likely never will. Obviously, I hurt for his entire family. But as a father who has also heard the dreaded words, “your child has cancer,” I can identify more with Noah’s Daddy and the cries of utter helplessness pounding a discordant melody inside his weary mind.

Quite frankly, this is awful and I don’t wish it on anyone, famous or otherwise. There are things he is in the process of discovering that no man should be forced to learn – yet his education is being forged in the pristine environment of a hospital and it can’t be stopped. He can’t withdraw from school, clep out of an exam, or skip this grade. There is no syllabus and the lectures can change violently at a moment’s notice. This is not a bunny class… basket-weaving 101. No, this is AP post-graduate work – a trial by fire where no grades are curved and no group study is allowed. Sharpen your pencil and take your seat, this class is the hardest that the School of Life has to offer.


If I were able to shove a note of encouragement and advice into his backpack, here are some things I would share from when I was forced to enroll in the course:

Hope is a verb and an active one, at that. You, as dad, have to kindle hope and keep it burning – DAILY! Mom is too busy and your children desperately need you to model positivity. So build your hope on whatever you can and keep fanning the flame. Friends and family will look to you in this time and feed off of your attitude.

Exams are coming quickly. Decisions will have to be made at lightning speed with only the limited information you have at the time. When forced to put your pencil down, don’t look back.


Your son is tougher than that nasty marine wannabe who yelled at you during middle school PE. He is going to experience pain and hard times, but will rise to every occasion and he will find joy in the oddest and hardest of places. You will see a remarkable side of him that you could never have expected.

Your wife is amazing. You knew that. You knew it before you married her and you have seen it in the way she mothers her children. But you are soon to see her go days without sleep, live in constant worry, cry more tears than you thought she could produce, and confront obstacles all while pouring insane amounts of love over you and your children. Tell her now and every chance you get that she is incredible and you are lucky to breath the same air she does.

Children do win these battles. In fact, the statistics are overwhelmingly positive for them. Though fear is your new and constant companion, know that there are many survivors out there. Cling fast to whatever winning percentage your doctors shared with you in the stuffy consultation room.


Speaking of doctors, they, the nurses, and hospital staff who will care for Noah are very special people. You will realize this at 3 am one night when he wants six yellow M&M’s and some nurse makes it her life’s mission to find and sort them for him.

As a society, we don’t value our children like we say we do on all of our propaganda. The treatment your son is receiving is decades old and the funding to find a cure is dreadfully inadequate. It isn’t fair for these innocent lambs who look to us for protection. But fair isn’t a word used in this curriculum.

Planning is relatively worthless now. It’s like trying to study as the teacher is passing out the exam – futile. Your life will run ten minutes at a time and is based on how Noah feels and how his treatment is progressing. You just won the last ten minutes, now go fight for the next ten and repeat until this nightmare is over.


Don’t worry, new kid. Regardless of their economic means, social standing, race, ethnicity, or any other category that society uses to divide, your classmates won’t give you a wedgie or shove you in a locker. Canadian? Even that’s okay. Cancer does not discriminate and neither do your fellow suffering parents. They will guide you, council you, and hold you when you just need a quiet friend. You have joined the worst club filled with the best people imaginable.

Get ready for tears and regardless of what you’ve been taught about them thus far, you don’t lose manpoints for crying anymore.

“No” is an acceptable word. Your primary goal in life is the well-being of your family and you should feel free to separate yourself from those who don’t respect your no. In fact, you have the right to distance yourself from anyone for any reason at all. This is your battle and you don’t have to explain the way you choose to fight.

Finally, you are about to see the world at its best – a light in this present darkness. There is an unbelievable amount of good out there. People you have never met or heard of will come out of the woodwork to support you and you will be amazed at just how many people lovingly care for your family and your son. No one has to fight this battle alone.


Class is now in session

Fight well, love fiercely, and steal joy wherever it can be found. You are in my thoughts and prayers.



Kylie’s Daddy



77 thoughts on “The Regrettable Education of Michael Buble

  1. You never cease to amaze me, although I know your goal is not to amaze anyone. Regardless, your expressive, compassionate words are a balm to a heart which is shattered and will never be the same. My prayers are with the Buble’s and any family watching helplessly their child suffer beyond all measures.

  2. Your words struck an all too-familiar chord. Like Noah, my daughter was diagnosed with hepatoblastoma at age 3. However, hers was stage IV, with only a 10% chance of survival. Today, she is a happy, healthy 20-1/2-year-old, sophomore in college. We are beyond blessed. My sincere prayers for little Noah and his family. Profoundly written, Mark. 🎗A+

    1. Oh how incredibly encouraging to hear. Our Charlotte was 15 months old when diagnosed with hepatoblastoma. Resection successful and already a relapse. She just turned 3. I feel a little more hopeful after reading your post. Thank you!

  3. I hope Michael has the opportunity to read this. He was a passionate advocate for kids with cancer long before his own child was diagnosed, so he has more than an inkling of the road ahead, but the difficult truths expressed here go deep into the heart and somehow, miraculously, emerge from the other side bathed in hope and love.

  4. So many of us parents would sign this with you. So well said covering so many important areas. I wish we could share such sentiment with him, and with celebrity chef Jean-Christophe Novelli who announced their child’s diagnosis almost an hour later. As you said, every time you hear of a diagnosis it pierces your heart. May they, and all who are given such God-forsaken news find other families to your blog and other parents to learn, to commiserate, to find hope.

    1. I’m sorry you are in this club with us. I don’t know of Novelli, but am sad for him also. Just knowing the road in front of them gives my pause. Blessings to you, friend.

  5. This is a group I never thought I would ever join. My son was diagnosed with t-cell non-hodgkins lymphoma 5years ago at age 7. I thank God everyday he is a survivor. But the C word is always on my mind as he gets older. 😔

  6. Thank you for putting all these feelings, fears and hopes into words. We lost our 17 year old son, Ben, this July to Glioblastoma (brain cancer). He fought for 14 years against leukemia and beat it. But in July 2015, out of no where, a brain tumour showed up. Michael Buble came to visit came to visit Ben in the hospital. Michael kept things very light and happy and hopeful for Ben. I know he’all be a great support for his son. It’s just so sad that after years of visiting sick children’s hospital, that his son has to fight this. All the best to Noah and his family.

  7. When my son Alexander was diagnosed, I was just starting to work towards my RN (taking a basic A&P class) I didn’t know I would be getting an education as a pediatric oncology nurse instead…..never did go back to RN school (I am an LPN) took some time off from nursing all together after he died. Just went back to work in an assisted living. Sadly, many of our residents have also lost children. Perhaps that is why I am there…..

  8. Hi Mark,

    I honestly don’t even know how I came across your blog, but I am so, so glad I did. My story is a little different, a little reversed, but the education was the same. I haven’t read or otherwise found anything that so accurately describes what it is like to take care of someone going through a (possibly) terminal illness. I am four sentences and thirty minutes into this comment because I cannot thank you enough for sharing this. I can’t thank you enough for understanding, and I can’t thank you enough for verbalizing what I’ve been trying to convey for the last 6 years. I sincerely hope the Bubles see this post, see they are not alone, and that there are people willing to share the parts of themselves that hurt the most to help others hurt less.

    Thank you again,


  9. Hi Mark,

    I honestly don’t even know how I came across your blog, but I am so, so glad I did. My story is a little different, a little reversed, but the education was the same. I haven’t read or otherwise found anything that so accurately describes what it is like to take care of someone going through a (possibly) terminal illness. I am four sentences and thirty minutes into this comment because I cannot thank you enough for sharing this. I can’t thank you enough for understanding, and I can’t thank you enough for verbalizing what I’ve been trying to convey for the last 6 years. I sincerely hope the Bubles see this post, see they are not alone, and that there are people willing to share the parts of themselves that hurt the most to help others hurt less.

    Thank you again,


    1. Hi Amy, I’m sorry you can relate and am so glad you found me and found comfort in what I wrote. I have found that honesty and openness really help me deal with the burden I’ve been given. I hope it helps others to find release, as well.
      You’re welcome and thank you for sharing!

  10. So terribly sorry for your losses, I am sending hugs and prayers to comfort you. I can think of nothing worse than what you have gone through..

  11. Wow! What a tremendous recap of the club tha no one wants to join. I am a grandma to a pediatric cancer survivor. My grandson was diagnosed at 11 months of age and the next couple of years were a whirlwind of treatments, procedures, pokes, prods, scans, doctor visits, meltdowns (his and ours!), and so much more.

    I could write so much more in agreement with your wise words. My grandson is now almost 10 years old. His life is a gift and wr cherish every day!

    Lukas’s Grandma

    1. I am so happy that Lukas is doing well. What a twist that you are a survivor and had to guide your grandson through it. I agree with you – every day is a gift. I wish more lived that way and treated others as such.

  12. My son was diagnosed almost 20 ago at the age of three. I read your article and was immediately brought to tears the pain,the grief,the what ifs,are still with me every single day. Today my son is a father . My prayers are with all those who fight this horrible diease.

  13. Mark- I could have wrote The Regrettable Education except I’m not a gifted writer like you! We also have had very similar experiences as your family. Even down to the diagnosis of Ewing’s sarcoma. I’ve commented on your posts in the past as I always enjoy reading them but you probably do not remember me. Our precious daughter, Lilli, joined Kylie in heaven on August 4 of this yr. She had just turned 16.
    I can not imagine having gone thru what we went thru the last 5 yrs without the loving support of other cancer parents, our neighbors, friends & strangers and the amazing staff @ MD Anderson, a physician group & hospital in Dallas (clinical trial) and the staff @ the NIH in Bethedsa, MD, in addition to our family.
    Hugs Kay

  14. Hi Mark. I included you in a blog award, though this doesn’t seem like the appropriate post to place it. Still, whether you care to accept it and pass it on or not, please know that I’m reading, and that I love reading both your humor and your dedication to the cause of finding a cure for childhood cancer. I hope this drives more people to your site and to your cause.

  15. Mark, incredible, words that are so strong, loving, insightful, compassionate just flow from you! I hope these words find Noah’s Dad. You do know him personally and yes Hope is an important word. There are many times, I read your blog and think now this is one of the best people, I know but really don’t, in the whole world. Your blogs touch a chord in my heart. I am not a parent of a child who had Cancer. Working with children like Kylie, knowing parents like you & Robin led me to realize so many of the things you wrote to Noah’s Dad because I Saw them first hand. It does not however give me or anyone the right to say I understand, because we don’t unless it has been our child. I feel honored to breathe the same air as the Community of Pediatric Oncology Patients & their families.

  16. Thank you for this article. I wish 4 years ago when my son was diagnosed I would have seen this article. You really expressed in words the true meaning of walking thru the cancer world. Thank you for sharing.

    Thank You from another cancer Dad.

  17. They should put a copy of this in with the rest of the stuff they give you those first few visits. These are the things that help you through.
    My welcome wagon came in the form of a lady named Ana, she helped me find strength I didn’t know I could have. We laughed and cried in the Ronald McDonald house kitchen for almost an entire year. I am forever grateful for the time we spent with her and her son.

  18. I too have been through this same education system….my daughter was 3 months old at the time. Unfortunately we lost her at 22 months. This article is spot on… what u need to do…ALL the time. And have faith and hope….I was thrown into the world of childhood cancer and have seen more victories than defeats over the past twenty years since I lost my daughter. People will want to help….but they won’t know how….so you simply have to tell them. Food, errands….whatever it may be….they will be ecstatic to be able to help you and your family in whatever small way. Unbelieveably, you will be helping them come to terms with the situation too by giving them purpose and making them feel like they are truly doing something huge for their friend. Lastly….cherish every “good” moment. Don’t let the unknown hold you back from making memories with your son and family. xoxoxo

  19. Wow. This is so spot on. As a cancer momma, who’s been in the “classroom” now for over 18 months and counting, you put into words so perfectly the way myself and my family feel. Thank you so much for sharing your insight. It’s hard to FIND the words sometimes. ❤

  20. After I read your post I went to your website directly. Mark, this piece of writing is so hopeful I was thinking that you had not lost your daughter. You’ve described the tragedy, agony, and heartbreak of diagnosis and treatment of childhood cancer. Yet, in the face of the perfect storm you told us that we humans have this massive capacity for resilience, bravery and we’re amazing and capable. And our children, sigh, those sweet innocent little beings, how they made us proud, showed us more courage than we felt as their parents.
    I’ve been reminded fairly accurately of the hope we had and how that hope carried us right through to the last day. And I’ll leave this comment remembering. Thank you.

    1. Kylie taught me hope and joy above all. I take no credit for it. She was amazing and the struggle pulled even more amazing out of her. I am sure all of my fellow cancer classmates find some incredible strands in their children that they can’t account for but appear during the fight. Thank you for reading Susan.

  21. I always enjoy reading your posts and I hope you don’t take offence to my comment but I am sure some will. I just find it is a shame this post was prompted to be written because Michael Buble is well-known. I would have appreciated it more if it was written for the “backpacks” of all the ‘normal everyday’ Mum’s and Dad’s who also are going through this journey with many having a rougher journey through lack of financial resources.

    1. That’s a fair comment. Kylie loved to listen to his Christmas music so I suppose that connection prompted me. Since I work for a childhood cancer non-profit now, I see new diagnosis all of the time, unfortunately. His stuck out because of my connection with Kylie. I’m not at all offended and appreciate your input. I have written several posts tailored toward any man or family going through treatment. We’re all in this terrible club.

  22. As a teacher and a nurse, I particularly enjoyed the analogy of the classroom/student setting. Life is a test. We are given help along the way. Through the whisperings of the Spirit, we can know we are not alone. I also enjoyed your advice about hope and agree wholeheartedly! Someone has to be the bearer of hope. When it all comes crashing down around you, there has to be someone to physically help you pick up the pieces. Thank you for your words. I will be sharing them with my students during the cancer unit.

  23. this is such a peaceful and honest note to a family who will be unable to avoid the near future of challenges that lie ahead of them. it is so full of grace. thank you.

  24. You have described perfectly just how every parent whose child is diagnosed with cancer goes through every minute of every day. My son was 21 when he was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukaemia, and he finished treatment last month after three years of chemo. My son didn’t have a father like you to help him through it, instead it fell to me to help him through the toughest, scariest time of his life. Even though he was a man, he felt like a little boy in so many ways – scared, vulnerable, yet trying to hide his pain. As I watched him go through bone marrow biopsies, lumbar punctures, countless rounds of chemo, blood and platelet transfusions, I stayed strong and sat quietly by his side, because he’s a man of few words, and finds it hard to show his emotions. When I got home, I cried and raged about the unfairness of it all, and never let him see my tears. He came through it, and is now trying to recover his strength and rebuild his life. His prognosis is excellent, for which I am eternally thankful, but I will never forget those dark days, and those who helped us both through it, to the light at the end of a very long tunnel. God bless you, you are a good man.

    1. I’m glad he got through to the other side. That must have been a strange dynamic being 21 with a pediatric cancer. How hard it must have been to be his caregiver. God bless you, Lyn. I’m sure the journey has been a difficult one.

  25. Very well-written. Accurate. Emotional. I personally relate to every single thing you said. When my 7-yr old son, EJ, was going thru chemo treatment (intrathecal), we would put on Michael Bublé radio and it would calm him down. It would calm us all down. I wish I could calm him down now. I pray for him and his family in these tough times. But they will get through this. Eventually.

  26. Kyles daddy,

    You have said it all. As a grandmother who has just been through this fight, I agree with every word. Hope is the key. Never give up hope. The good in people kept all of us going through our fight. My faith in the world was rekindled.

    Summer’s grandma

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