‘She will always be a cancer patient’ | Childhood Cancer Awareness Month

East Tennessee mom shares story of daughter’s fight against rare brain tumor
East Tennessee mom shares story of daughter’s fight against rare brain tumor
Published: Sep. 6, 2023 at 6:31 PM EDT
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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) - Cancer is a scary disease for anybody, but especially for kids.

September is Childhood Cancer Awareness Month and parents are sharing their children’s stories to raise awareness.

“Childhood cancer is not rare,” Alana Phillips said, an East Tennessee mom whose daughter is battling cancer.

It’s a disease that impacts kids around the world, and East Tennessee is no different.

“My daughter is Tillery. She was diagnosed when she was 15 months old,” Phillips said.

Phillips said her now 10-year-old daughter has been battling a rare brain tumor for most of her life.

“This year marks nine years that she’s been battling a cancerous brain tumor,” she said. “She is still on treatment. She’s treated at St. Jude, and she will always be a cancer patient.”

Phillips said her daughter’s tumor can never fully be cured, and that it is an ongoing fight. She said her family has had to make a lot of sacrifices.

“There’s so much work that the parents have to do,” Phillips said. “Advocating for getting insurance to approve things, getting doctors to refer you to where you need to be.”

Tillery’s situation is unfortunately one of many.

Data by CureSearch for Children’s Cancer shows that 42 kids a day are diagnosed with cancer. East Tennessee Children’s Hospital sees about 50 new child cancer patients a year.

But there is hope.

“I’ve seen lots of advancements in treatment,” Amanda Martin said, Nurse Practitioner in the Hematology and Oncology clinics at East Tennessee Children’s Hospital.

Martin said she’s been at ETCH for 30 years, and has seen major strides.

“I’ve seen diseases that used to be uncurbable, are now cured,” she said.

Like Tillery’s battle with cancer, Martin said finding a cure and advancing treatment options is an ongoing fight.

“There are still uncurbable diseases. There are still diseases where kids will relapse and they need treatment and we don’t have a lot of options for some of the cancers,” Martin said.

Phillips said she’s raising money and raising awareness all month long to try and help the cause.