Child Cancer Survivor Shares Story with CBS 8 News

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By Jessica Gertler

Every year thousands of children across the country fall victim to cancer. The illness remains the leading cause of death by disease for children under the age of 15. This month is National Childhood Cancer Awareness Month. A time to remember those lives taken too soon, those fighting the disease, and those who overcame it.

Many children in the River Region have been diagnosed with cancer, and many times the outcome isn't always what we want to hear. CBS 8 News sat down with one Montgomery family that faced the disease and heard how Cami Phillips battled cancer.

On the surface, Cami Phillips is like any other 12-year-old. A honor roll student., an athlete, a sister and daughter. You would never know what she's faced.

"I went to a doctor's appointment when they found a tumor, and he sent me to the hospital, so I could get a CT scan. They did say it was cancer," Phillips says.

When Phillips was one-year-old, she was diagnosed with Neuroblastoma. A cancer that forms in the nerve tissue. Only six in one million children are diagnosed with the disease, and the chances of surviving are slim.

"Initial shock. Surprise. She was the healthiest kid we had. I thought she was just plump, but she had a fairly large tumor in her abdomen," says her father Mathew Phillips.

It took Phillips less than a year to battle the disease.

"We spent nine weeks in the children's hospital. During that time, there were four other children diagnosed with the same tumor, and two of the four children died while we were getting treatments," he says.

Today Phillips has been cancer free for ten years, and while she still has to get yearly checkups until she goes to college, so far the chemo and cancer haven't affected her health.

Some say it was medical treatment that helped her heal, but Phillips says it was an act of God.

"God does miracles, and look at me. I'm a miracle!" she says.

Phillips says her experiences have inspired her to become a nurse.

More than 10,000 children under the age of 15 across the country are diagnosed with cancer each year. Thanks to medical advances, the five year survival rate for childhood cancer has jumped from 50 to 80 percent.