AMARILLO, Texas (KAMR/KCIT) — July 15, 2007, is the date that would change the Smith Family’s life forever.
“For us, I mean when our doctor first said those words, it was horrible. I mean, it was such a very big blur,” said Marcus Smith.
“I remember we could not even find our car in the parking lot that day,” said Julie Smith.
That date was when their 2-year-old daughter, Camryn, was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia.
Remembering up to the diagnosis, Julie said, “We noticed that she was pretty pale, and started to have a lot of bruising, and her tummy was distended, and we ended up taking her in. Within 24 hours, our world was turned upside down.”
Young Camryn went through chemotherapy for three years.
Her parents said that by the age of three, they had taught Camryn to take eleven pills a day.
Julie, said, “My husband always says, you know, you would take a bullet for your child, but to stand there and watch them get struck, it was unbearable.”
Thankfully, when these hard times hit and Camryn began treatment at BSA, Marcus and Julie Smith were already familiar with Children’s Miracle Network.
The family was initially introduced to Children’s Miracle Network after spending nine weeks at the NICU, when Cameryn and her twin sister Olivia were born prematurely at 29 weeks.
Julie said, “I had the sweetest doctor and he was such a great support. The day they were born, he came and sat on the foot of my bed and he said ‘I will tell you now, but I didn’t want to tell you earlier – I never thought they were going to make it.”
Marcus and Julie were already highly stressed when Julie had to go into labor because about a year before the twins were born, the Smith’s delivered a son that didn’t make it.
“We spent a lot of hours in the NICU. We’d look around and see little plates on all the pieces of machinery and we finally asked, ‘what’s that all about,'” said Julie.
After becoming friends with the nurses and doctors, and seeing all the equipment CMN provided to hospitals, CMN helped them feel at home again.
Thinking back to the days in the hospital, Julie said, “There was a beautiful playroom. Again, all of it said donated to CMN from whomever, so it was very important that we turned around and gave back.”
Marcus was so moved by the network, he served a term on the CMN board.
He further noted, “We just really just love CMN and they’ve done so much for our family. This is just one little part that we feel like we can do to kind of pay it forward.”
Thanks to CMN and the care Camryn received at BSA, she is now approaching year 10 of being cancer-free.
The 10-year milestone is on Sept. 27.
When asked about Children’s Miracle Network, Camryn said “I still rely on those same doctors that took care of me to take care of me today. And I get to see a lot of them on a yearly basis, and it’s just cool to see how that hospital has changed from when I was there.”
For anyone going through something similar to Camryn, she said just try to remember that better days are ahead. Camryn said, “I had really bad days and I had really good days. Like, there were days when you just gotta play with some toys and get your mind off of it. And it’s going to hurt, but as long as you stay positive – that’s one of the main things. And try and laugh sometimes. Just remind yourself that it’s not going to be like this forever.”
Looking forward, nothing slows down Camryn now. She is a big fan of cycling and is on the drumline at Randall High School. One day, she hopes to become a Game Warden for the State of Texas. This goal comes from her love for animals.
When speaking about her family, Camryn’s twin sister, Olivia said, “We all rely on each other, because of things that have happened. And it really made us realize how much we appreciate and love each other.”
Camryn also has a younger brother, Noah. About a year after she was diagnosed, the two shared a room.
One of Noah’s youngest memories involving Cam reading a book to Noah until he fell asleep.
To this day, Noah and Camryn share a special bond and love hanging out with each other.
Camryn and Olivia’s 15th birthday is approaching Oct. 7.
Every day Children’s Miracle Network hospitals treat 2,128 kids with cancer and 1 in 10 children in North America are treated by a CMN hospital each year.
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