PANAMA CITY, Fla. (WMBB) — Every year 400,000 children worldwide are diagnosed with cancer. September is Childhood Cancer Awareness month and a local family is using their first-hand experience to help others.
Harper Christian was diagnosed with Medulloblastoma brain cancer in 2019 and was given a 20% survival rate. The 7th grader’s battle started when she was just 9 years old.
She had nausea issues and her doctors wasted no time figuring out what was wrong.
“They jumped on it right away, sent us for scans, we went and had scans like 4:30 in the afternoon, ended up finding out a couple of hours later that they found some abnormalities,” her mother Daniyal Christian said.
Her parents, Shane and Daniyal weighed the pros and cons of several hospitals and ultimately decided to take her to St. Jude in Memphis Tennessee.
Harper had to have many surgeries and treatments to fight brain cancer.
“Five weeks of brain and spine radiation and then after that, we had a small five-week break and then we went and started her chemo treatment,” Christian explained.
One major complication after one surgery was weakness on her left side. She was unable to walk for several months.
“Watching your daughter having to fight a battle that would take anybody down was definitely the hardest part and then timing,” Christian said.
Harper was also in the hospital during the pandemic, putting her at a higher risk.
She returned home in October 2020. Now her family is dedicated to helping other children with cancer.
“The more that we educate ourselves, the more awareness that we bring this month is the perfect month to get the word out there and hopefully we can start doing some change around in our community for it,” Christian said.
Earlier this year she went on her Make-A-Wish trip to see the Northern Lights in Alaska. Now they live every day just grateful Harper is healthy.
“She’s probably one of the most loving, caring, selfless little girls that I’ve ever met and I’m just so lucky that she’s mine,” Christian said.
Harper will travel back to st. Jude for her next set of scans in November.
St. Jude children’s research hospital never bills a patient’s family. Click here for more information about St. Jude.