Congratulations to Naomi Pitts, our feature for Tough Kid Tuesday! Not only has she fought through cancer, she is a role model for everyone. Remember that September is Childhood Cancer Awareness month…Go Gold!
Naomi Pitts sensed something was very wrong. She played volleyball for her middle school, and realized she was tiring much too quickly.
When the fatigue became overwhelming, her mother, Christine, took her to an emergency department. Within an hour, she was told she had cancer. Naomi took the news calmly, but Christine says it took her a week to believe the diagnosis was real. “Finally, though, I said to Naomi, ‘God heals all manner of diseases and He will heal you. Do you believe this with me?’ She said that she did, and our journey began.”
Naomi’s diagnosis was Stage III anaplastic large cell lymphoma, a rare type of blood cancer seldom seen in females. Specialists at Children’s of Alabama determined that the cancer in her neck had spread to her spleen and upper and lower abdomen. Treatment was aggressive, and involved injections into Naomi’s spine and chemotherapy. Ten days into chemotherapy, her hair began to fall out. “As I helped pull the hair away from her scalp, she told me, ‘Mom, I think it bothers you more than it bothers me. I’m just glad to be out of pain,’” Christine says. Still, the chemotherapy drained Naomi of her strength, and Christine watched her daughter’s spirit fade. “I prayed for God to restore her joy and that beautiful smile that I missed so much. And, because I knew Naomi loved to draw, I bought art supplies for her and asked her to draw me some pictures. But she just told me she was too tired.”
That changed, though, when they discovered inpatient art therapy offered through the Hope and Cope program at Children’s. “Naomi would go down to the playroom for an art class and talk and paint with other kids going through the same thing,” Christine says. “The day she came out of that first class, I saw Naomi smile.”
Today, 14-year-old Naomi is back at school, playing on the volleyball team again, and active with community service, including volunteering as a Champion for Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals. In February, Naomi was selected to represent Alabama in a program to raise awareness about the life-saving miracles at children’s hospitals throughout the United States and Canada. Recently, she shared her story with local Wal-Mart associates who support Children’s Miracle Network fundraising efforts. “It makes me feel great to know that they think my recovery is amazing,” she says.
Do you encourage your children and teens to be “TOUGH”? Learn from One Tough Kid! Share Naomi’s story with your family and discuss what it means to be TOUGH. T-Tenacity O-Optimism U-Unselfish G-Grateful H-Happy (despite circumstances) Visit One Tough Kid for more inspiration!
A special thanks to Children’s of Alabama for sharing this story!
One Tough Kid – Naomi Pitts.