EAGLE COUNTY, Colo. (KDVR) – Imagine going through your teenage years, during the pandemic, while battling cancer. An Eagle County teen is conquering it all and has just been named a National Ambassador for the St. Baldrick’s Foundation, which raises money for childhood cancer research.
Campbell Sullivan, 19, competed as a ski racer until her junior year of high school, when she was diagnosed with a type of childhood cancer called CIC-Dux4 Sarcoma, which is a rare bone or soft tissue cancer. She endured seven months of treatment, only to relapse seven months later. She then underwent major surgery to remove the soleus muscle in her calf, a lung resection, six additional rounds of chemotherapy, and a stem cell transplant in March 2019.
“My tumor is in my right lung. I had 16 days of radiation to my right lung I finished in December. Right now, I’m just on chemo,” she said.
Right before COVID-19 hit, Campbell relapsed again. But even through a pandemic and cancer treatment, Campbell remained positive and has since graduated high school and is now preparing to go to college.
“It’s been a rough couple of months. My cancer is definitely rare and aggressive. It’s a weird mutation, so it doesn’t have a name, which is frustrating because it’s hard to get word out about my type of cancer. I’ve only met about 20 other people with my type of cancer in the world,” she said.
The St. Baldrick’s Foundation allowed her the chance to connect with other children battling childhood cancers.
She said, “You can sign up to be an ‘honored child,’ (which) puts you on the map to see if others have the same cancer as you. I thought I was the only person in Eagle County with childhood cancer, but when I entered as an honored kid, it popped up as, ‘There’s a little boy with leukemia in your area.’ I was like, ‘That is pretty crazy.’ The ‘Honor Kid Community’ is where you can go on the website to read the kid’s story and donate to St. Baldrick’s.”
The outgoing, gregarious teen started doing Zoom recordings and interviews for St. Baldricks. Then, a few months ago, the foundation asked her to become an ambassador.
“I was so excited. Sometimes we get to go to the Capitol and advocate. We do action days, where St. Baldrick’s and a bunch of other organizations go lobby throughout the House of Representatives about childhood cancer research. I’m really looking forward to doing that with St. Baldrick’s,” Campbell said.
Worldwide, a child is diagnosed with cancer every two minutes, and cancer kills more children than any other disease. The St. Baldricks Foundation started in 1999 and is best known for its head-shaving fundraisers. They have given more than $300 million to fund research over the past 15 years.
As a St. Baldrick’s Ambassador, Campbell and her family will act as a face and voice for kids with cancer by attending virtual St. Baldrick’s fundraising events and sharing their personal journey.
Campbell said, “I mean, possibly think about shaving your head this year at St. Patrick’s Day!”
This year, they are going virtual, but their mission remains the same.
“If you know someone in your community with childhood cancer, you can search up their name. If they pop, you can donate directly to their page,” Campbell said.
Through her years of chemo, radiation and experimental treatments, Campbell remains hopeful for a cure — for herself and for others going through the same thing.
“We just keep going down the line of options. If they don’t work, at least we are trying them and my parents tell me new stuff is coming out every day. I know we can do it. I know we have all the information, just finding the cure and solving the problem,” she said.
Campbell also started her own foundation one year ago. it’s called the SkiFast Foundation, which has already provided ski scholarships to 12 children with sarcoma cancers.