EAST NORTHPORT, Long Island (WABC) -- September is Pediatric Cancer Awareness Month, and one young man who fought his battle during COVID is offering hope and inspiration to others.
"I got diagnosed with cancer when I was 10," Sully Carey said. "As a child, you're supposed to be happy and have no worries."
He was finishing up fourth grade at East Northport Elementary School when he started getting headaches and feeling fatigue.
A trip to the emergency room would turn his world upside down
"The doctor said that it was most likely leukemia, and I just remember standing there and crying and looking at him," dad Benjamin Carey said.
Sully was an active youngster who went from scoring touchdowns to spending almost a month in the hospital.
Sadly, cancer strikes more children than most would think.
"It is the number disease killer of children," said Laura Eicher, with the American Cancer Society. "There's over 200 children diagnosed every week, and that's just age 15 and under."
To put it in perspective, that's basically five large school buses packed with youngsters who are diagnosed with cancer each week.
"Your whole entire world caves in," Benjamin Carey said. "There's nothing worse, but it's beatable. It's OK, and you can't quit. You just have to get up every day and find the silver lining in each day, and just keep punching cancer in the mouth."
Sully is now 11 and in remission, and his Long Island community gave him a hero's welcome when he came home from the hospital.
He can't play youth football because of the medical port in his chest, but he is able to go to school and see his friends, and he gets stronger every day.
He also has a message to other cancer patients.
"Be positive," he said. "Should be OK."
Leukemia and brain cancer are the two most frequent types of childhood cancer, and advocates are pushing for more funding and research so these children have a fighting chance at a long and healthy life.
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