TEGA CAY, SC (WBTV) - Westley Peterson, 17, has kidney cancer. He found out because a soccer ball hit him in the stomach.
It happened while playing for a recreational team in Tega Cay. Anyone who plays soccer knows your body gets hit. But for Westley, it hurt more than normal. The next day was worse. The next day he started having harsher side effects, so his mom took him to the doctor.
Tests showed a mass on his kidney. A tumor, almost ¾ the size of the entire kidney itself.
"This was definitely not the way our son planned to spend Spring Break this past April," Janet Peterson said. "His entire vacation was spent going to the doctor, having tests, and even surgery."
Fast forward five months to today…
- Successfully completed all radiation.
- Neared the end of chemo.
- Lost 38 pounds.
- Finished his junior year despite strong side effects (his family thanks their homebound tutor from Fort Mill School District).
- Never given up.
- Gone to Panthers Fan Fest.
"He is the most positive person I know," said his mom. "His last treatment at Levine Children's Hospital will be the end of this month. We'll end Pediatric Cancer Awareness Month with a bang."
Westley has an older brother named Joey. They were born in Pineville but his family moved to Tega Cay when Westley was 6 months old. Janet says their family has been blessed with awesome friends, neighbors, and even strangers. They keep everyone up to date on Westley's Fight Facebook page.
Janet says Westley wants to attend college and pursue a career in TV production one day.
September is Pediatric Cancer Awareness Month. As my friend Erin Santos says, it should be Pediatric Cancer ACTION Month. Let Westley's story move you to try to make a difference. Cancer is always nasty, but there's just something about it hitting a kid that seems wildly unfair. This month do what you can. Volunteer. Donate. Or at very least, share these stories.
Westley is trying hard to beat this thing. His mom says they already have a "no more chemo" party scheduled for October 8.
"We find ways to create inspiration," she said. "We can't wait until treatments are over."
**Editor's note: This is a about a member of #MollysKids, one of the kids WBTV Anchor Molly Grantham follows closely on her Facebook page. This article was first published there – maybe you'll be able to tell that in the personal way it's written. For years Molly has followed the stories of dozens of kids with uphill medical battles. Find this story and updates on all of #MollysKids here.**