.

One Tough Lily

She's pretty like a lily, but she's also tough as nails. Eleven-year-old Lily Anderson is showing cancer who's boss. Hear from her live during WSB's Care-a-Thon on July 26-27.

If there's an art to battling cancer, 11-year-old Lily Anderson has it down pat. Her war is a strategic battle that combines knowledge, diplomacy and perseverance against the enemy, in this case, known as Neuoroblastoma cancer.

Neuroblastoma is an aggressive cancer that develops from nerve cells and most often makes its appearance in children under the age of five. However, Lily was 8-years-old when she was diagnosed with stage four Neuroblastoma in 2009. She was admitted to the AFLAC Cancer Center at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta to undergo treatment that would aggressively rival her cancer during a notoriously long program which holds no promises. Her parents, Joey and Jennifer Anderson were blindsided with the news.

"I remember hearing the words at the hospital and I just slid down the wall in tears. It was devastating," says Jennifer.

Little did she know at the time, her daughter would prove to be a community superhero.

Cumming is a town that looks after its people when the going gets rough. It's a tradition that has helped hundreds of families through crisis and perhaps contributed to Forsyth County's status as one of the fastest growing counties in the country. Residents quickly rallied to support Lily and her family through fundraisers and awareness events such as Lily's Run.

The community's ongoing support and spirit has worked a magic that can only be described as the fuel that keeps Lily and her family on the winning edge of the fight. Residents, family and friends have become the foot soldiers in the battle against Lily's cancer. Lily, of course, is the steadfast commander in chief who has kept an entire town hopeful and diligent.

"She is an inspirational fighter," says neighbor, Fran Marty. "Yes, she has cancer, but she has become a mentor not only to children fighting the disease, but also to other children who are watching from the outside, trying to process the emotions of watching children battle cancer." 

Through ongoing chemotherapy treatments, blood transfusions and a stem-cell/bone marrow transplant, it is an entire community's hope that Lily's cancer will eventually concede the battle, step down and lose ground. 

By all accounts, Lily keeps a typical schedule for a little girl who loves singing, playing guitar and being a cheerleader. There will be another round of chemotherapy on the way, and another week of feeling sick, but Lily may well be on the homestretch of putting cancer in its place, and nothing is stopping her.

"I know that God has a plan. Everything happens for a reason, and I work very hard at staying positive," she says, matter-of-factly. "Singing helps me stay focused on being positive. It's my favorite activity and I hope to become a professional singer when I grow up," attests Lily, whose performance in singing the national anthem at a Braves game in Atlanta made fans realize the true definition of winning.

Lily's greatest gift perhaps, is her ability to teach everyone how to celebrate life no matter what is happening. "I hang out with my friends all the time and they keep me from feeling down. You know, I'm just kind of over the whole cancer thing, but I still have to try hard to think positively and not to worry too much," explains Lily. "I am the most worrying person in my whole school and if someone tells me they knew someone with cancer who died, I say, 'Umm... you didn't need to tell me that!'" 

It is a summer morning at the Anderson household and while most children are getting ready to go to the pool, Lily will be getting ready to go to the hospital to start another round of chemotherapy. Her best friend is coming along for moral support and Lily, as usual, is in good spirits.

"It really doesn't hurt anymore, the blood tests and everything – I'm just so used to it and I'll be taking my chemotherapy orally, you know, pills," she explains.

Lily has also used a central venous access port for her treatment.

"Now, I only have to use my port for Pentamidine and don't ask me how to spell that!" she says with a giggle.

They say children are resilient, but Lily's strength doesn't simply derive from being 11-years-old. She knows a positive outlook is something that can be practiced and mastered for the greater good of triumph over what may at first appear to be an insurmountable battle.

"I have learned that staying positive is powerful in any situation," says Lily who adds that the worst part of her battle is losing her hair. "I hate losing my hair, I just hate it, but you know what, it will grow back when I'm done with my treatment." 

Feisty in the most inspiring way, Lily isn't afraid to tell the world she hates cancer and the inconvenience it has caused in her schedule.

"I take tumbling classes and I lost my back-handspring with so much going on with my cancer," she says with an eye-roll. "Right now, my goal is to get my back-handspring back as soon as possible," she says, following that eye-roll with a confident grin.

While many of us tend to get tired of our schedules, or the "daily grind", Lily has made room in her schedule for colossal medical treatments many people will never have to experience. "I just do it," she says with determination behind soft brown eyes that belie her maturity. 

At the rate she's going, Lily Anderson will likely be showing all of us how to spring into action when there's a war we must fight. Luckily, we also have a real superhero who is always ready to share her pointers on how to turn cancer into the weakest player on the battlefield.

Will you be watching the Care-a-Thon, if so, why? Tell us in comments below.

On July 26 and July 27, the 12th annual WSB Care-a-Thon will be broadcasting live from the Aflac Cancer Center of Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta. On-air personalities Neal Boortz, Clark Howard and Scott Slade will host the event as listeners will be able to hear the stories of children and their families impacted by childhood cancer or a blood disorder.

Lily, along with her parents Jennifer and Joey Anderson will share their story of Lily’s battle with Neuroblastoma, and listeners will find out what strength means to the family who has continued to battle cancer with faith, courage and unyielding determination.

If you're interested in this story, here are a few others:

Denise Crull July 26, 2012 at 12:47 PM
To Lily, her parents and her entire family, Your strength and faith, especially Lily's, is inspiring. I am touched by your story and determination to fight this ugly disease. My family and I will keep you all in our thoughts and prayers.
Maureen Upchurch July 26, 2012 at 01:40 PM
Thanks for the story on Lily! It helps to know that patients like her have a LIFE that they continue to lead. Cancer doesn't stop them! I am honoring a similar little girl, a survivor, by participating in the inaugural Cure Search walk in Atlanta in November. Cure Search raises money for research into childhood cancers. I'd love for our group to walk beside hers. Www.curesearch.org
Lisa Robbins July 26, 2012 at 08:48 PM
Lily, you continue to inspire me. You are amazing!
Students of Hopewell Middle School December 16, 2012 at 02:22 PM
Yesterday was a sad day for all of us. We lost this poor child and now we need her legacy to live on. She was so strong and lively and I looked up to her, even though I am older. But everyone can rest at night and know that this delicate soul is not hurting anymore, for she is with God and all of His glory. Now she has the freedom to do whatever she wants and not feel the constant pain of her disease. Now we just pray that she alongside of God will hold her family and help them get through the pain of her loss. Rest in Peace little angel! We all loved you and we will miss you so very much. -Love, the students of Hopewell Middle School North Fulton County, Georgia
Tiana Izawa- Hayden December 17, 2012 at 04:14 PM
Lily will always be remembered in our hearts I know she's in mine
Jordan V. February 04, 2013 at 02:55 AM
Jordan V. Lilys friend Lily went to school with me in 5th and 6th grade. She really knew how to lift your spirit in sad times. She was a great and inspiring friend she will stay in my heart forever. Lily , you were so beautiful and a angel in my eyes. Love u. Audrey, u were blessed with what you have a great sister and loving mom and dad . Time goes by fast sometimes u just gave to stop and listen to the music. Follow your dreams Audrey love u baby girl Mr.Anderson and Mrs.Anderson , U guys did so well looking after Lily . At school she always talked about u guys and how awesome u were. I can truly say u are and raised a family of angels . Love u and give Audrey a big huge for me.( sometimes I sit at night and talk to Lily even though she is not physicaly here I know she can hear me, so try it sometime). Love , Jordan V.

Boards

More »
Got a question? Something on your mind? Talk to your community, directly.
Note Article
Just a short thought to get the word out quickly about anything in your neighborhood.
Share something with your neighbors.What's on your mind?What's on your mind?Make an announcement, speak your mind, or sell somethingPost something