September is Childhood Cancer Awareness Month and two childhood cancer survivors, now in their 20s, have shared how their faith grew stronger from battling the disease.
Caleb Scoville, 24, was diagnosed with brain cancer when he was nine years old, and then again 12 years later. He has had brain surgery, chemotherapy and radiation. Doctors say he suffers cognitive brain damage because of the tumor and treatment, but he is an excellent student who graduated magna cum laude. He currently has a 4.0 GPA in graduate school.
"I honestly believe it is a miracle," Scoville told The Christian Post when asked how he managed to do so well in school despite having brain damage.
His family, he said, always prayed over his medicine and before treatments.
But perhaps what makes Scoville's story more remarkable is his strong faith and positive attitude despite the pain he endured as a child.
"Cancer strengthened my faith a whole lot," said Scoville, who noted that he was not angry with God when he was diagnosed with cancer. "I personally don't believe God caused me to have cancer. I believe he allowed me to have it and strengthened me because of it."
The psychology graduate student from Oklahoma says he wants children battling cancer and their parents to know that they can become stronger and better because of the disease.
When he graduates, Scoville says he plans to work with child brain tumor patients and their parents.
Similarly, Pamela Ledbetter, 26, has positive things to say about her experience battling bone cancer when she was ten. The kindergarten teacher from San Antonio said her faith grew stronger and her life became fuller because of the outpouring of support she received from church members during those trying years.
"I would continually, almost on a daily basis, receive notes and cards and prayers from other church members," the childhood cancer survivor recalled. "The active support of my community was very powerful and I saw the hands and feet of God in that sense."
Ledbetter said she received financial support, teddy bears, and other gifts from members of her church. But what really touched her were the cards she received from Christians in other states who heard about her condition through members of her church.
What she wants to tell child cancer patients and their parents is that they are not alone and it is not a private, solitary journey. Ledbetter encourages families with a young cancer patient to find comfort in community.
In her own life, Ledbetter stays involved with child cancer patients by being a counselor at a local camp for children with cancer that she formerly attended as a patient.
"For me personally, growing up with cancer is a constant reminder that if God brought me through that, then how much more would he let me survive later," said Ledbetter, referring to hard times in her post-cancer life.
Cancer is the second most common cause of death for children between the ages of 1 and 14 in the United States, according to the American Cancer Society. In recent years, the survival rates have dramatically increased.
Half a century ago, childhood cancer was almost always a death sentence. Today, due to medical advances, four out of five children reach the important five-year survival milestone.