An 8-year-old’s tumble down the stairs, and resulting back pain, led to a fluke discovery and a far scarier diagnosis.
Cameron Scott was taken to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital; that’s when doctors took an MRI of the boy’s spine and spotted the tumors. They immediately had a second scan done, this time vertically, and identified a prickly, “hedgehog”-shaped lump in his brain, right next to his spine.
“Cameron’s tumor had spread down his spine,” Dr. Amar Gajjar told Today in an interview. “It was what we consider ‘high risk.’” Gajjar explained that Cameron’s cancer was stage 4 medulloblastoma.
The diagnosis came as a shock to the family of eight—Cameron is the youngest of six kids.
“It was like an out of body experience,” Cameron’s mother, Tamika Scott, told Today.
“You know, I’m ‘Dad,’ and I have to be strong for everybody,” said Cameron’s father, Wardell Scott. “I just felt, ‘we gonna fight.’”
Their researchers had discovered, over the years, that there were four types of the disease, not just one; Cameron had the worst type, but that discovery also led them to a pioneering, new treatment, which allowed them to target the cancer more effectively.
Prior to the discovery, many children who had medulloblastoma were treated but “weren’t being cured,” according to Marlo Thomas, the National Outreach director at St. Jude.
The doctors at St. Jude had managed to unlock the gene sequencing of the cancer types, and they applied chemo radiation treatment accordingly.
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“Cameron was treated with the most aggressive chemo and radiation,” Thomas added. “This new trial is now being run in 20 other sites around the world. So, all the data is going to come to St. Jude, and then, we’re going to be able to really advance the survival rates of these children. That to me is the most exciting part, we’ll be saving more kids all over the world.”
But the real hero of the story is Cameron. “He’s my hero,” Wardell said. After an extensive four-hour surgery to remove the tumors, the young man endured a grueling six months of chemo treatment at St. Jude’s. He stayed strong all the way. At the end of all of that, Cameron was finally cancer free.
I feel amazing now,” he told USA Today after the treatment. “I feel like I’ve been through everything.”
In celebration, Cameron and his family were brought to Lego Land Resort in Florida for some carefree fun.
Meanwhile, the family wasn’t billed for a cent by the hospital—St. Jude had covered the entire procedure. They were “humble and thankful” for the help they received, said Wardell, who broke down in tears during the interview. “He’s my hero.”