Virginia Woman Turns to Nursing Career After Sons’ Deaths

She went back to school to become a nurse, wanting to pay it forward and help families like hers

After losing two sons — one to a rare disease and the other to suicide — a Virginia woman decided to become a nurse and help ease others’ pain.

Kathy Wales’ son Alex was diagnosed with a very rare brain disease called adrenoleukodystrophy.

“They said, ‘Buy a video camera and enjoy your time,’” she said.

Doctors gave him six months to live, but he survived more than seven years before passing away at 16.

“He never stopped smiling, and I figured if he’s not going to stop, I don’t have any right to,” Wales said.

Through it all, Alex’s big brother Zach stayed by his side.

“He was amazing,” Wales said. “He was the best brother. He did everything for Alex.”

And though he wasn’t showing any symptoms, Zach had the same disease.

After Alex passed away, Zach was devastated, Wales said.

“Because he liked to come off as the big tough guy, he didn’t let on as much that he was hurting as much as he was,” she said.

Zach killed himself at age 20.

“It was a huge, huge, huge surprise, huge blow to us,” Wales said.

“We miss them both so much every day, but they’ll always be in everything I do,” she said.

She went back to school to become a nurse, wanting to pay it forward and help families like hers.

“I like to think that they’re watching us and I just had to keep going for them,” she said.

Wales graduates from the East Coast Polytechnic Institute in Manassas Friday.

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