Cameron is the kid with the magic smile.
His dad, Wardell, said, “From the time Cam was maybe 5 months old, we knew there was something special about him. Parents, we all say that, but you know, I’m being honest. He’s the baby of six, and he is in a class of his own.”
Cameron is exceptionally caring, and something about him just draws people near.
In 2016, when he was in the second grade, Cameron took a tumble down the stairs while playing with his brothers. Afterward, he couldn’t walk; Wardell literally carried him into the emergency room.
There, an MRI of Cameron’s back showed tumor growth along his spine in about 3 different places. A second MRI showed a tumor in his brain.
Once you hear the possibility of brain tumor … you hear it but you don’t. It’s almost like an out-of-body experience. It was surreal. But we were prepared to do whatever we could to fight for our son.
That meant coming to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.
Following three tumor removal surgeries at a children’s hospital in their home state, the family arrived at St. Jude around Thanksgiving. St. Jude has made strides in combating Cameron’s type of brain cancer, medulloblastoma.
And treatments invented at St. Jude have helped push the overall childhood cancer survival rate from 20% to more than 80% since it opened in 1962.
But 80% isn’t enough. St. Jude won’t stop until no child dies from cancer.
St. Jude patient Cameron with his mom, Tamika
We got a break to come home for Christmas, which was unexpected. We were so excited about going home; we’re a close-knit family and not used to being apart. But when we got home, Cameron and I both had a feeling of anxiety, because St. Jude is magical. The level of care is so outstanding, we felt safer at St. Jude than in our own home.
“I said to my wife, we need to be donors. We need to donate to St. Jude. She said, ‘I’ve already beat you to it.’ Her workplace was participating in the Combined Federal Campaign, and she was a donor for five years before our son’s diagnosis.”
Cameron completed treatment in summer 2017 but returns to St. Jude for checkups and to light up the place with his giant and genuine smile.
Though he’s a child, he was a much better and stronger man than I am. He never complained and was an example for everybody around him. One of the things that sticks with me from this experience is not taking life for granted, being appreciative of the small things. Keep a positive outlook and keep moving forward, and then, you affect those around you. It was through Cameron’s situation that we learned to keep faith in humanity. St. Jude reminded us there are more good people than bad people in the world.
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