Fifteen-year old Camron Cozzi has an entire community rallying around him as he battles for his life, bravely facing a cancer that he knows will almost certainly take his life.
Despite that, his mantra has become “Just keep fighting.”
It’s a fight that was foisted upon the family in December when Camron bumped his head playing lacrosse. At first, the Cozzis thought Camron suffered a concussion.
“He wasn’t bad at first, pretty decent, nothing alarming,” his father Paul says. “Then the symptoms started to progress.”
Camron was getting sicker. The family and doctors were becoming concerned that it could be something more serious. Three days before Christmas, on a shopping trip, they made a stop at the doctor.
“That’s when he told me that he thought it was a tumor,” Paul says.
The diagnosis came that night: an extremely rare brain cancer called Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Glioma, or DIPG.
“It’s inoperable and there’s no cure for it. He can have some treatment to extend his life but that’s about it.”
It’s a cancer so rare that only about 300 Americans a year are diagnosed with it. A tumor so deep in the brain that even the most specialized equipment can’t reach it.
“He asked if he didn’t have anything done, how long would he have? And she said two months without chemo and radiation, and then if he did have the treatment he would have nine months to a year,” Camron’s mother Cyndi recalls. “Nine months to a year… and that’s how our Christmas began. You know it’s a tumor and you know it’s bad and you know your life is going to change… you still have that hope, so many people are cured of cancers.”
The Cozzis are people of faith, believing in a miracle. Once they came to terms with the fact that their bright, athletic boy probably had only months to live, Cyndi posted the devastating news on Facebook. Almost immediately, a wave of support came their way.
“I just wrote a little blurb on it and gave a little information on it and people just started flooding in with messages of support and contacting us, and it seemed like people wanted to do something for us, and it’s just been awesome and a blessing,” Cyndi says.
The Cozzis living room is now overflowing with symbols of support…from friends, local high school teams, and Camron’s doctors and nurses, rooting for Camron as he undergoes radiation treatment that will hopefully prolong his life.
When the Seahawks heard about Camron’s situation, they invited him to practice, and got a treasure trove of memorabilia, including a signed football and equipment, including a helmet from Marshawn Lynch.
“Yeah. He walked up to me and said you don’t know where you got this from, and walked away right after,” Camron says, chuckling.
Camron became a fixture at practice during the Hawks’ playoff run. Pete Carroll even wore a DIPG ribbon during both playoff games in honor of Camron.
“It’s bad to think about the reason for it, but I can only fight it. I can’t really not want it. It just kind of happened and now I have to just fight it,” Camron says.
Just as the Seahawks rallied in the playoffs…battling back in the face of adversity… Camron is doing the same thing. And inspiring people all over the region with his spirit. This kid has the heart of a warrior.
The Cozzis are exploring experimental options from all over the world in hopes of buying more time with their son, and hopefully finding a cure, but that costs money. A lot of money. This family needs your help, and here’s something you can do:
This Saturday, March 5th, the family is hosting a DIPG Awareness Night at the Washington State Fair Expo Hall in Puyallup. It runs from 3:30 to 11:30. Tickets are $35 and an 8-person table is available for $500.
You can also follow the family on social media, on the Team Cozzi Facebook page, and on Twitter, by searching #TeamCozzi.