Winter break is almost over and while other kids are bummed, Cameron Scott isn’t.
He’s looking forward to going back to school. Maybe he’ll even get in a little trouble for running in the halls. That’s not something he’s been able to do since being diagnosed with stage 4 brain cancer two years ago.
The 9-year-old underwent months of grueling treatments — including chemotherapy and surgery on his brain and spine — to beat the cancer in 2017.
But that didn’t mean things returned to normal right away. Quite the contrary.
Cameron still had regular doctor visits. For so long, he was extremely fatigued, which meant he had to be tutored at home. Eventually Cameron was allowed to return to school part-time, said his father Wardell Scott.
In December 2018, his doctors at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital finally cleared him to return to school full-time. He was thrilled. Then, after just two days in the classroom, a snowstorm in his hometown of Raleigh, N.C., thwarted the remaining school days before winter break.
“One of the challenges of a parent who has a diagnosis like Cameron did is ensuring they don’t get depressed and they don’t feel different. But he’s very smart and he wanted to go home when his friends went home.”
The fall that led to life-saving treatment
In October 2016, Cameron fell down the stairs of his family home. It wasn’t an especially bad fall. It was on par with stumbles Cameron’s five older brothers and sisters had experienced at one point or another, Scott said.
“I’ll remember that like it was yesterday. In that home, we’ve raised six children and they’ve all taken a tumble down the stairs and it was no big deal,” Scott recalled.
But unlike his siblings, Cameron complained of back pain. A first X-ray showed nothing and he was given some pain pills. His dad was called to Cameron’s schoola day or two later because he couldn’t walk. At another clinic, a St. Jude affiliate doctor ordered an MRI.
“She said, ‘Go upward’ That’s when we noticed the tumor. It’s kind of hard to say this. But if he hadn’t that fall, we wouldn’t have him with us here today.”
Cameron was diagnosed with a brain tumor called medulloblastoma. He underwent four hours of surgery for the tumor at the base of his brain. But the cancer had spread. Cameron had several tumors in his brain and on his spine. St. Jude’s took over his treatment in December 2016.
“It is a very aggressive cancer,” said Dr. Santhosh Upadhyaya, St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital oncologist. “It had gone beyond the confines of where it started. In these cases, it is a high-risk for treatment failure and these children are given more aggressive treatment and higher doses of radiation.”
Cameron underwent radiation and chemotherapy. He completed his treatment July 2017.
St. Jude covered the costs for the family.
At St. Jude, families never receive a bill for travel, food or housing because the hospital is known for saying that a family should never worry about anything but helping their child live.
‘He’s running now’
Cameron loves all superheroes but Batman is his favorite because he uses his brain to go good, rather than relying on innate superpowers.
Cameron has been cancer-free for about a year and a half. Healing is slow, but it’s real.
Before the cancer diagnosis, Cameron ran all the time. “It was hard to catch him,” his dad said. Then the illness and treatment slowed him down.
“He’s running now. For him to run now? Well, we just hope the teachers will bear with him. Because you’re not supposed to run in the halls. That’s something kids take for granted. But he’s going to be running. And he’ll deal with it if he gets in trouble. I’m sure he’ll be thrilled.”
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