12-year-old faces rare battle with cancer head-on - WKRN News 2

12-year-old faces rare battle with cancer head-on

Posted: Updated: Aug 22, 2013 03:17 PM CDT
Shealeigh Brewer, 12, was diagnosed with Ewing's sarcoma, a rare cancer, in February. Shealeigh Brewer, 12, was diagnosed with Ewing's sarcoma, a rare cancer, in February.
NASHVILLE, Tenn. -

Twelve-year-old Shealeigh Brewer was a typical cheerleading, Taylor Swift loving, movie watching kid, until Ewing's sarcoma showed up.

The rare form of cancer occurs primarily in patients under the age of 20, according to orthopedic oncology surgeon Dr. Ginger Holt.

"It's very rare.  There are only a hundred to 200 cases a year in the United States that we see," Dr. Holt explained.

In addition, Ewing's sarcoma is often mistaken for the normal aches and pains of growing up.

Dr. Holt said, "Being a very rare tumor, it's often delayed in diagnosis or missed in diagnosis so the tumors come to us large [and] expanded."

Chest pain led to the discovery of Shealeigh's tumor, but, initially, she and her mother thought she pulled a muscle.

"One day you think your child has just pulled a muscle and the next day you hear the big cancer word and it changes everything," Dana Pack told News 2.

Since her diagnosis in February, Shealeigh has undergone two surgeries, the first of which was on her leg.

"She's been beaten down with chemotherapy. We took the bone out of her leg, replaced it, put plates, screws, pins in; we sent her back for more chemotherapy, and she comes back smiling saying, ‘What do we do next? Where do we go next?'  And that is unbelievable," Dr. Holt said.

Thursday morning, Shealeigh had surgery on her rib to remove another tumor.

"You don't expect this.  You don't expect going to the hospital every other week.  It's not what a normal 12-year-old child should be doing," Pack continued.  "I didn't want to lose it in front of her, but I did and she said, ‘Mom, God doesn't give us more than we can handle.  It's going to be okay.'  So she had to comfort me."

"It's been kind of hard but its part of chemo and cancer and its just kind of my life now," Shealeigh told News 2, adding, "Now I'm more comfortable in my own skin and I know that it doesn't matter what you look like.  But the best part is God picked me to be a warrior and he has a plan for me."

Shealeigh said her goal is now to get back to school and cheerleading as soon as she can.

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