St Jude Patient of the Month – Camryn
Diagnosis: Camryn was found to suffer from Wilms tumor in January 2011.
Camryn is dressed in a purple shirt with a matching purple bow in her hair. In each hand, she holds a purple and white pom pom. An energetic little girl whose family has nicknamed her Diva, she waits on the sidelines with the other little cheerleaders, their energy palpable. When the team they’re rooting for, the Tomcats, scores on the field, Camryn shakes the pom poms wildly and jumps up and down, chanting loudly for her team.
Two years ago, when Camryn was found to suffer from Wilms tumor, a type of kidney cancer, her parents worried their little girl, so full of life, might never feel good again.
In January 2011, Camryn woke up one morning screaming and clutching her side. Her parents thought she had appendicitis and rushed her to the emergency room. The doctors thought it was appendicitis, too, but a CT scan soon revealed that there were several tumors on Camryn’s right kidney and one large tumor on her left kidney.
Camryn’s family was quickly sent to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, where her treatment included chemotherapy, surgery to remove the tumors and radiation. Throughout Camryn’s fight with cancer, doctors worked to keep her kidneys functioning so that she wouldn’t need dialysis.
In the beginning, Camryn was scared, but St. Jude helped her with that. “Every time we tried to explain cancer to Camryn, I was about to cry,” said Camryn’s mom. “So the Child Life specialist came in, and she explained everything to Camryn so that she could understand it.”
When people asked Camryn why she didn’t have hair, she told them that it was because of the medicine that “gets the bad stuff out of my belly.”
Camryn’s mother is an elementary school teacher, and her father is a 4-H instructor getting his master’s degree in agriculture education. They have good insurance, but the family was relieved that whatever insurance didn’t cover, St. Jude did. “I’ve heard so many times that people have had to declare bankruptcy or lost their homes when a family member gets sick, but St. Jude takes care of its families,” Camryn’s mom said.
Camryn is now done with treatment and visits St. Jude for regular checkups. She loves cheering for the Tomcats, dancing and singing. Camryn, who is in first grade, has even started to write her own songs. When she grows up, Camryn wants to be a dance teacher.