Grayson Willis, 17
Rhabdomyosarcoma (Cancer of the soft tissue)
Diagnosed April 1996 at age 9 months
My cancer story: My cancer story dates back 16 years ago. I was only 9 months old at the time when I was diagnosed with Stage IV Rhabdomyosarcoma Cancer. This cancer is a very rare and aggressive cancer of the soft tissue.
Once diagnosed, I spent the next year going through chemotherapy and radiation. I did go through remission, but not for long. Within a few weeks, I began to experience neurological problems. While most children my age were walking, I was still struggling with that.
My parents were told that the cancer had returned and developed into a brain tumor. I then, once again, began full brain radiation treatments. I had to undergo a total of ten of these treatments. This was to help the symptoms go away. Decisions like these were very hard on my parents.
The doctors gave me no chance of survival. My parents prayed for an answer of what to do next. They decided to try another type of chemotherapy.
I strongly feel that through faith in God, and prayer, I am alive and able to share my story. I am now 17 years old and have been cancer free since before the age of three.
Caregiver shout-out: Although I was very young, I know that my parents got their strength from God, their family, friends, church, and organizations like the American Cancer Society, and A Special Wish and Make A Wish Foundations. I really appreciate that and love them all!
Message to newly diagnosed and patients in treatment: Have family, friends, and others pray for you. Pray for the doctors that are taking care of you. Look for ways to encourage others and share your faith with them. Psalms 121 says: 1 I lift up my eyes to the hills - where does my help come from? 2 My help comes from the LORD, the Maker of heaven and earth. 3 He will not let your foot slip - he who watches over you will not slumber; 4 indeed, he who watches over Israel will neither slumber nor sleep. 5 The LORD watches over you - the LORD is your shade at your right hand; 6 the sun will not harm you by day, nor the moon by night. 7 The LORD will keep you from all harm - he will watch over your life; 8 the LORD will watch over your coming and going both now and forevermore.
Grayson designed the 2012 Relay For Life of Belmont County Holiday Cards. If you are a survivor and/or would like to get involved with Relay For Life please visit www.relayforlife.org/belmontcounty or contact Chelsea Edwards at 888.227.6446x3206 or firstname.lastname@example.org.