- Associated Press - Sunday, October 5, 2014

BEAUREGARD, Ala. (AP) - Tanner Campbell will have one of the best teams possible to cheer her on as she battles cancer.

The 12-year-old Sanford Middle School cheerleader recently took photos with friends_all dressed in orange “Team Tanner” t-shirts_in the front yard of her Beauregard home. She watched, tucking long blond hair behind her ears, as friends practiced cheer routines and back flips.

“It’s going to be a tough road, but she’s been tough,” said Tanner’s father, Kerry Campbell. “.When they told us, she cried a little bit, but she’s been strong.”

Sept. 8, after two days in Children’s Hospital of Alabama in Birmingham , Tanner was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia, or ALL.

“Rhonda had taken her to Urgent Care for what we thought was strep throat, and we were (in Birmingham ) for 10 days,” Kerry said.

Tanner’s mother, Rhonda, took her to a local Urgent Care for a sore throat Sept. 6. When her blood count came back low, the doctor sent her to a pediatrician, who referred them to an oncologist in Birmingham .

“They told us to pack a bag and be prepared to stay. That was the worst as far as worry,” Kerry said. “They were waiting for us at the ER at Children’s.”

Doctors looked at Tanner’s blood results and admitted her that night.

“Of course, our fear level went sky-high. They admit you to the hospital, and you go to the eighth floor, and that’s the cancer floor,” Kerry said.

When doctors determined Tanner needed more tests, the family was left to wait all Sunday for a Monday bone marrow aspiration. She was diagnosed that night.

“She took it really well the whole time. She was strong,” Kerry said. “.Although it was devastating news, I think we were comforted by the fact that they were confident that they could treat it.”

While the Campbells were in the hospital, their friends in Beauregard were already working to raise money to help defray the cost of impending medical bills. Friends and family hosted dove shoots, bake sales and car washes. Tanner’s friends made “Team Tanner” T-shirts, bracelets, ribbons and “fight like a girl” buttons.

“We’re selling these t-shirts and we went to the Stop and Shop and collected money from people who drove by,” said seventh-grader Naomi Peoples.

The community also brought dinner to the Campbells in Birmingham , as well as mowed the lawn and brought meals to the two oldest Campbell girls: Reid, 18, and Chandler , 16.

“I felt like I’ve had to grow up really fast. Me and my sister were here by ourselves. We had to get groceries, feed the dog. It’s definitely been difficult,” Reid said.

But, she added, the support has also been incredible to witness.

“It’s amazing. I think in four hours, over $2,000 was raised,” she said. “.She never had less than 15 people in her (hospital) room the whole time.”

For Kerry and Rhonda, both Beauregard natives, the support has been more than they ever could have imagined.

“It’s awesome. It’s great,” Rhonda said. “I wish everybody in the community would know how grateful we are. .I didn’t expect this, as much as it’s been.”

Even with the support, the Campbells know Tanner will have a hard road ahead of her. Now, she’s getting chemotherapy weekly, and the fight will be a roughly 2 1/2 year process. But Tanner is staying positive.

“It’s fine. I still have school work,” she said. “I’d just rather be in school than learning how to do it. They just pile all the stuff on me.”

Tanner’s friends are also sticking by her.

“You never know what’s going to happen the next day,” said seventh-grader Sarah Chambers.

But her parents say the support has “done wonders.”

“It just makes you know if somebody else needs something, we’re there to help,” Rhonda said. “.I wouldn’t want to live anywhere else.”


Information from: Opelika-Auburn News, https://www.oanow.com/

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