At just a year old Cami was diagnosed with cancer. Cami’s Mom, Camille Phillips, remembers taking Cami to her well baby check-up. Their pediatrician discovered the tumor in her abdomen. Camille is so thankful that she took her child to the well baby check-up because otherwise it would have been a year later before they discovered the tumor. Cami’s tumor was diagnosed as a stage 3 tumor, meaning it covered her entire abdomen but it had not yet invaded any of her organs. Their pediatrician immediately sent the family to Children’s Hospital.
Dr. Matthew Phillips, Cami’s father, was familiar with Children’s Hospital as he spent his residency at UAB and Children’s. At first, he didn’t realize that his one-year-old little girl’s cute pot belly was hiding a tumor the size of a tennis ball. “There was no question in my mind where we should start,” he said. While the neuroblastoma proved to be in a dangerous spot, he saw no need to go anywhere else when one of the best hospitals in the world is in our own state.
“My wife and I experienced the compassion first-hand,” he said. “It’s an experience we’ll never forget.”
One of their sweetest memories is taking Cami around in a wagon full of Beanie Babies people from his office had donated and giving them to the other kids in the oncology unit. “It helped us, too,” he said. “You don’t want to focus on yourself and how bad things are. When we look back, it was one of the hardest times in our life, but one of the most important times of growth.”
As a physician, Matthew has a unique viewpoint and some poignant wisdom for facing hardships of any kind.
“On one hand, the medical care was so effective. But in the midst of it, we had overwhelming peace. Seek excellent medical care, but put your confidence in the Lord,” he said. “If you’re facing a crisis, don’t think about the outcome—you’ll get overwhelmed. Just take it day by day. His mercies are new ever morning, and He will give you the grace you need for each day.”
Eight years, five surgeries, four months of chemo, and thousands of prayers later, Cami is a healthy little girl with a winsome smile and spunky personality. “I often wonder what God has in store for her,” said the proud father.