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El Paso girl recounts cancerous tumor diagnosis and how it changed her life

Monica and Amy Macias
Monica Macias
Amy Macias, right, poses with her mom Monica while undergoing treatment for a cancerous tumor in El Paso.
AMY MACIAS
Monica Macias
El Pasoan Amy Macias, 10, was named Candlelighters Queen while being treated for a cancerous tumor in Feb. 2021.

EL PASO, Texas -- Pediatric cancer is rare, but it's not preventable or entirely predictable.

But thankfully for Amy Macias, it is treatable.

At 8 years old, Amy developed a tumor.

September is Childhood Cancer Awareness Month. ABC-7 wanted to showcase the story of one child who overcame the scary diagnosis.

Amy Macias and her mom Monica got a huge scare in Nov. 2020. The 5th grade student at Horizon Heights Elementary School had a cancerous tumor removed and had to undergo chemotherapy.

"I had a little ball right here," Amy said as she pointed to the front of her right shoulder. "When they touched it, it felt like it hurt a little bit."

Monica Macias noticed the abnormal growth when Amy was getting ready for her ballet lesson.

"I thought it was bone," Macias said, speaking in Spanish. "When we took her to the doctor, they found out she had a tumor and they had to remove it.

"That's when they found out she had cancer," she said, as she wiped her eyes. Remembering that moment nearly two years ago still moves her to tears, she said.

Amy was treated at El Paso Children's Hospital.

Pediatric oncology acute care nurse practitioner Amanda French told ABC-7 the hospital's ability to treat various cancers has grown over the ten years it's been open.

French said 75 to 80 patients are admitted for treatment of cancer at the hospital annually.

While some cancers require treatment outside of El Paso, she said they have many specialists on hand who can offer initial treatment. They can also enroll their patients in numerous trials if the cancer needs more aggressive care.

"Pediatric oncology is such a sub-specialty that we see our patients very, very often," said Amanda French, NPRN. "Once a week, sometimes three times a week; we do get extremely close to the families."

It was at Children's where Amy met representatives from a network of organizations that support families who have a child undergoing treatment, including Candlelighters of El Paso.

She was crowned the Candlelighters Queen three months after her diagnosis. As part of her royal duties, Amy lit the Christmas tree in downtown El Paso during the Celebration of Lights 2021.

Now in remission, Amy, 10, reflects on her life-altering experiences.

"It was surprising, because I had never done that. ... I wanted to be a nurse. I'm not sure, but I'm thinking about it."

Monica Macias is relieved her daughter can think about her future. Now, she urged parents who are getting the scary diagnosis to put their children's well-being first.

"Parents need to motivate their children, be with them, support them, and talk to them a lot," she said. "I know it's not easy for parents and kids, but they have to support them and keep going forward, fighting for their children."

Article Topic Follows: Health
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stephanie valle

Stephanie Valle

Stephanie Valle co-anchors ABC-7 at 5, 6 and 10 weeknights.

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