September is Childhood Cancer Awareness Month. And, one second grader touched by disease is trying to raise money for research and make people aware of how devastating the diagnosis can be.
Kambell Koon looks like any other student at Newton Christian School. She says, "I am in 2nd grade, and I am 7." But, if you look at her hand, you'll notice the young girl's battle scar. She says, "We found it when I was 3 years old."
Kambell's cousin noticed a lump on her finger four years ago. Soon after, doctors removed the growing tumor. Mom Sara Koon says, "When the pathology report came back, the surgeon was absolutely stunned. He never heard of this type of tumor before. The tumor is called lipofibromatosis."
Less than one hundred cases are known worldwide. When the tumor started coming back, Kambell's mom found another boy being treated at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis, Tennessee. Mrs. Koon says, "The people at St. Jude are so loving, so caring, so willing to go out of their way to make sure you are ok, the patient is ok."
Kambell spent two months at the hospital, getting a seven week course of localized radiation. The hospital covered all treatments and expenses. Her family is now trying to give back. Sara says, "It started as a little fundraiser. In the month of September just over 1,000 children will be diagnosed with cancer. And so what we wanted to do was raise $1 for each of those children that was going to be diagnosed this month."
Kambell's story was featured in the Newton Daily News, helping her reach her goal of $1,000. But, her family hopes to raise even more. Sara says, "The money is great. St. Jude is funded by donations, and without those they aren't able to continue the work they are doing. But, just to help people know how rampant childhood cancer is and how one day life is fine and the next day, you're being told your child has this disease."
Kambell has been tumor free for 18 months. Now, she's hoping the coins she collects go far at St. Jude. "So they can get more machines that will work for the other kids, so that they can be cared for."
Kambell is still collecting money for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. The family asks you make checks out to the hospital. You can send it to Kambell Koon, 516 W 5th St S, Newton, IA 50208.