Local family shines light Childhood Caner Awareness Month

September is Childhood Cancer Awareness month. Each year more than 12,000 children in the United States are diagnosed with cancer. One-fourth of them will not survive.

"We went from having a perfectly healthy four year old. We had just finished a four-year-old wellness visit. And she just developed bruises one day."

Kim Snuggs examined the bruises on her daughter Avery. She knew something wasn't right and immediately scheduled an appointment with a pediatrician. That appointment changed everything. "Never in a million years would have thought what they told us that day. And from day one they thought it was leukemia. And we were sitting here and got that confirmed about 24 hours after the bruises appeared," she said.

That was eight months ago. Since then, Avery has gone through numerous treatments and doctor visits. Her mother says she's been brave. But it hasn't been easy. "It's a roller coaster ride. There are great days, good days, there are horrible days, and just bad days," said Snuggs.

Snuggs hopes more good days are down the road, and that the{} road leads to a complete recovery. She's encouraged by initiatives like Childhood Cancer Awareness Month. A time when the spotlight it put on children like Avery.

The success rate for saving children with cancer has risen more than 50 percent in the last 30 years. But Avery's doctor, Michael Gleason, says there's still a long way to go. He says this month can help close that gap. "Everybody knows what the pink ribbon means. Nobody knows what the golf ribbon means. And that's what Childhood Cancer Awareness Month is all about. Just letting everybody know that there so many children diagnosed every year," he said.

Gleason says Avery is on an experimental drug to see how well it attacks her leukemia cells. Treatments like that can be hard on her little body. "They go through hell and back. Avery right now is in one of the phases of therapy called delayed intensification which means it's a more intense treatment. Right now she's coming every day for chemo therapy,"{} said Gleason.

But Snuggs says those days will soon be behind them. "I've pictured her as a teenager fussing at me. I've pictured her holding my first grandchild maybe one day. That's what all of us have to claim and cling to is complete healing."