8-year-old Kentucky boy with terminal cancer named police chief for a day

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

And it wasn’t all pretend.

They say live in the moment. Each day at its best. But, when you’re 8-year-old Kyler Buckner, and the doctors say your days are few, these minutes and moments just matter more.

“His face started to droop,” said his mother, Kristen Mackin. “I told them I thought he had a stroke … It was much more serious than we thought.”

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.

So, Jeffersontown decided to pay tribute to Kyler by naming him as the city’s police chief for one day, from a swearing-in ceremony to active patrol.

“It’s so hard to have a kid that’s running around and playing and just enjoying life and being so silly,” said Mackin. “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. 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-9’s to firearms and true detective work with his assistant chief — brother Jakob — at his side, Jeffersontown police did everything they could to make this moment one of his best.

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

“He kind of looked up and me and said, ‘is this real?’” said Officer Brandon Gwynn. “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 got to 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,” said Mackin. “Live and laugh and love and enjoy what time we have because nobody knows how long.”

Each moment, every day, at its best.

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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