Monroe Carell Jr. Children's Hospital at Vanderbilt
Monroe Carell Jr. Children's Hospital at Vanderbilt
Monroe Carell Jr. Children's Hospital at Vanderbilt
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Monroe Carell Jr.
Children's Hospital
at Vanderbilt
2200 Children's Way
Nashville, TN 37232

(615) 936-1000

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Meet Camille

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Camille Fraser was a healthy, active 13-year-old, playing her second season of volleyball at David Lipscomb Campus School, when she began to have pain in her right knee. A local orthopaedic clinic diagnosed her with tendonitis and Osgood-Schlatter disease, an inflammation of the knee common in active children. She was told it would get better with time and Advil. But the pain persisted.

A few weeks later, Camille took a tumble down the front steps of her house. "It wasn't like a normal trip. I totally lost control," she recalled.

Knowing a strong and fit teenager like Camille shouldn't lose control of her leg, her parents took her for an MRI. They were told something wasn't right and referred to the Monroe Carell Jr. Children's Hospital at Vanderbilt.

In an instant, Camille's diagnosis went from sports injury to cancer.

Camille had osteosarcoma, a bone tumor that is one of more than 200 bone and soft-tissue tumors that make up a family of cancers known as sarcomas. These are some of the rarest tumors in medicine, accounting for approximately 1 percent to 2 percent of all cancers diagnosed each year. They occur most often in children and young adults, but older adults can also develop sarcomas.

Camille's tumor formed at the upper end of the fibula, the small bone in the lower leg. She began chemotherapy just after Christmas in 2004, and in February, she had surgery to remove the top six inches of her fibula. She continued chemo until September 2005 and has been cancer-free since.

That was not at all how Camille expected to spend her 7th-grade year, and she said the worst part was being isolated from friends who were too young to visit the myleosuppression unit.

"I usually went in the hospital on Tuesday and came out on Friday. If there were complications, I would stay until Saturday or Sunday. It was like I lived there. It got to be a routine," she said.

Her friends did send cards, sometimes 20 per day, and her grandparents would bring whatever food she was craving, even when she went on a 12-day shrimp binge. While her father, Stuart, worked to support the family, Camille's mother, Melissa, stayed by her side.

"It's surreal and devastating, especially in a child who had been so healthy," Melissa said. "I felt like we were on a different planet. Life was so different than what everyone else was doing. You feel like you don't belong because no one knows what you're going through."

Now a senior in high school, Camille is in the midst of volleyball season. She still has a lot of pain in her leg and sometimes has to sit on the sidelines, but her love for the sport keeps her going and her coaches and teammates are understanding.

"I wear a brace, and players will come up an asked how I messed up my knee, thinking it will be an ACL or something," she said with a laugh. "When I tell them, their eyes get really big and they say they're so sorry, but I don't mind talking about it."

Camille now volunteers at Children's Hospital, and she wants to become a Child Life Specialist to help other children through similar experiences.

"As much as I have gotten, I have to give back," she said.

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