St. Baldrick’s Ambassadors represent the more than 400,000 kids worldwide who are diagnosed with cancer each year. Ambassadors come from diverse geographic areas, ages, diseases, and treatment statuses. Their stories highlight the importance of supporting the best childhood cancer research so all kids diagnosed can live long, healthy, productive, and happy lives.
Every child is so much more than a cancer diagnosis. Each has their own unique personality, gifts, and talents. Read on to learn more about these remarkable kids.
Aaron in his musical element.
Resilient, positive, and determined are a few words that describe 16-year-old Aaron. These traits served him well through his battle with cancer and continue to guide his life today.
When he was 4, Aaron stopped walking. An MRI revealed the cause – a tumor on his spine. A few days later, his family received the official diagnosis – Ewing sarcoma, a rare bone and soft tissue cancer.
Cancer treatment started right away, even while he was still re-learning how to walk. Over the course of seven months, Aaron endured surgeries and physical therapy, underwent 14 rounds of chemotherapy and 28 rounds of proton beam radiation, six hours from home. In all, Aaron spent 82 nights in the hospital during treatment.
Yet, Aaron is so much more than his cancer diagnosis. He is an accomplished guitar player and plays tennis for his high school varsity team. He is an avid reader, but like most teenagers he also loves video games and movies. And while he competes in tennis, soccer is his favorite sport, with Lionel Messi of Inter Miami being his favorite athlete.
There’s no doubt that Aaron will continue to face the ups and downs ahead with the signature determination that has gotten him this far.
Julianna is all smiles with a cute little bow on her head.
Julianna (a.k.a. Juju) is always on the go. This 5-year-old is obsessed with Jack Sparrow, loves swimming, bike riding, dancing, baby dolls, dressing up, playing doctor, school, and worship music. She expends her energy at dance and cheer camp and is excited to start gymnastics soon.
Her determined spirit has propelled Juju through the last two years.
The week of Christmas 2021, Juju started to lose her appetite and complained of stomach pain. Several doctor visits and tests followed. On January 14, 2022, she was diagnosed with stage L2 neuroblastoma, meaning the tumor had not spread far from its initial location. Treatment started immediately. Fortunately, the chemotherapy reduced her tumor by more than 96%.
Fast forward to January 13, 2023, her parents received news that Juju had relapsed. This time, it was stage 3. More chemotherapy followed, along with a 12-hour surgery to resect her tumor, 14 fractions of radiation, and a stem cell harvest. It’s been a long road, but she had her port removed last November. However, scans last month showed an unknown spot on her chest. Due to its location, Juju’s doctors feel a biopsy is too risky. She will have another round of scans in five weeks to assess next steps.
When asked what she wants to be when she grows up, her answer is simple. “I just wanna be a kid.” This is what all kids with cancer deserve!
Scott is all smiles, 12 years after his cancer diagnosis.
Scott is a cheerful, hardworking 15-year-old who enjoys football, hanging out with friends, and traveling. His acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) diagnosis at age 3 was a complete shock to his family, especially since he seemed healthy and never even had a sick visit to the pediatrician.
Since he was diagnosed as a toddler, he couldn’t fully understand that by the end of treatment 3 ½ years later, he would have taken more than 1,500 pills, endured countless spinal taps and blood transfusions, received 40 bitter nebulized antibiotic treatments for immunosuppression, and spent more than half of his life on chemo.
Around the time Scott turned five, he had lost multiple friends to cancer and the emotional impact of childhood cancer became more real. He shared, “I’ve known many kids who were diagnosed with my same type of cancer and at the same age who are no longer here. I don’t know why they are no longer here and yet I am… It’s hard thinking about that sometimes, but I’m incredibly grateful to still be here. Thanks to research, I’ve been given a second chance at life and this is what fuels me as a childhood cancer advocate.”
Now 12 years in remission, Scott is loving 9th grade and recently received his driver’s permit!
Sam during his high school graduation.
Twenty-year-old Sam is an accomplished musician, pilot, and philanthropist.
When he was 12 or 13, Sam joined the civil air patrol because he dreamed of being a pilot. It also opened opportunities for him to give back, including getting involved with St. Baldrick’s. In 2018 and 2019 when he shaved his head, raising over $10,000 for kids with cancer, he never imagined he would become one of them.
In January 2021 a high fever and muscle pain landed Sam in the emergency room. He was shocked to be diagnosed with acute promyelocytic leukemia, a subtype of acute myeloid leukemia.
During the intensive treatment phase, a bleed compressed his spinal cord, causing paralysis from the waist down. After a long night in the ICU, being pumped full of blood products and chemo, doctors performed a major spinal surgery to relieve the pressure and give him a chance to walk. He was in the hospital for three months after surgery followed by intensive physical rehabilitation. He worked hard to regain his ability to walk, finish his junior year of high school, and get back to doing the things he loved.
Today he’s in remission and a sophomore at San Diego State University (SDSU) where he plays upright bass in the SDSU Symphony Orchestra, joined a fraternity, and plans to major in history with a possible minor in music education.
Sam said, “My friends family brought light to me in my darkest time. I’m glad that now I can support other children and their families through difficult times, which I intend to continue doing, in as many ways I can.”
Camden, who is forever 9.
#CammersTough represents the story of a boy who fought cancer with incredible strength and courage. His resilience in the face of continued hardship is what made him an inspiration to others.
Camden (a.k.a. Cam) won over the hearts of peers and adults with his precious smile and kind heart. He was an old soul, and his witty personality created lasting connections with everyone he met. He enjoyed what most little boys do – sports, building Legos, acquiring Pokémon cards, playing video games, and snuggling his puppy, Dixie.
Cam was three years old when he was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia in February 2017 and immediately started treatment. In September 2018, an abnormal blood test showed signs of relapse. A bone marrow aspiration confirmed that it wasn’t a relapse. Cam had a new type of leukemia, acute myeloid leukemia, possibly caused by the chemotherapy used to treat his initial diagnosis. For the next four plus years, Cam endured intensive chemotherapy, two bone marrow transplants, severe graft-versus-host disease, endless procedures and surgeries, a clinical trial, and several relapses in between. Despite Cam’s resilience and fight, it wasn’t enough. On December 16, 2022, Cam passed away at the age of 9.
Even though he spent so much time in the hospital, Cam developed meaningful relationships with friends and family, nurses and doctors, teachers and classmates. Throughout his life, he inspired others with the courage he showed during the hardest times in his cancer fight – none of which could bring down his beautiful spirit. Honoring Cam’s memory is how his family celebrates the permanent mark he left on us all. And that, ultimately, is his everlasting story.
Throughout the year, you’ll continue to be inspired by these kids and their stories. #ResearchIsHope for all kids with cancer.
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