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Local childhood cancer survivor shares story of egg retrieval to spread awareness

Diagnosed with neuroblastoma when she was 3, Lily Kampf had years of chemotherapy and radiation. She is cancer-free now, but her fertility was impacted.

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — September is Childhood Cancer Awareness Month, and as we mark the final day of the month we've got an incredible survivor story to share.

Lily Kampf was diagnosed with neuroblastoma when she was just shy of 4  years old. She had years of chemotherapy and radiation. Today, she is cancer-free, but her fertility was impacted.

Now 21, Lily has undergone a procedure to make sure her dreams for one day becoming a mom can come true.

"I was just shy of 4 years old when I was diagnosed with neuroblastoma in March of 2005. I had a lot of treatments. I also had the opportunity to travel to New York to find out what would work best for me," she said.

Lily is deeply grateful to say "I have been cancer free for 11 years now. I'm healthy now. I'm happy." 

But getting there took transplant surgery, lots of chemo and radiation—which took a toll on her fertility.

"We knew that Lily was going to be at a really high risk for premature ovarian insufficiency or failure or early menopause," explained pediatric oncologist Dr. Allison Close.

Lily was referred to the Fertility Center. 

"I had three eggs retrieved and they are frozen now, so I'm very happy about that," said Lily.

Dr. Close explained Lily's fertility window was quickly closing. 

"It's really important for us to have these ongoing conversations with these patients so we can intervene while there is still time."

Lily's willingness to share her story is important for so many reasons.

"Kids that have experienced childhood cancer, it's hard to speak about because you are living it. I have hearing loss and I wear hearing aids. A lot of kids keep it bottled up...and they're bullied because they've had cancer. It's OK. It's hard to share your story but it's helpful for others."

She has this message for families and kids living through childhood cancer:

"Even if it's just a little bit of hope, always hold onto that hope. I'd like to thank doctors and my family for it because I don't think I could do it without them at all. They helped me stay strong. I see all these little kids with cancer here and I hope they hold onto that little bit of hope because I'm healthy and I'm here today."

Lily is training to become an esthetician specializing in skin care. She is in no rush to start a family, but is grateful that she'll be able to try someday.

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