WARNER ROBINS, Georgia (41NBC/WMGT) – Three months ago, Nathan Long discovered a mysterious mass on his neck. The 16-year-old Houston County High School student immediately knew something was wrong.
"Because it just kind of popped up over night," Long said.
Within days, he would begin his battle with the two 'C's'-cancer and chemotherapy.
"And they said 'okay Nathan, we're just gonna lay it on you, you have Hodgkins Lymphoma', and my first words out of my mouth were, 'cool, I get to be a cancer survivor,'" he said.
A survivor and a determined spirit, despite the chilling statistics; cancer is now the leading cause of childhood death in the United States. Unlike the strong Houston County teen, many smaller patients struggle with the side effects from chemo. At the Medical Center of Central Georgia, a newer option, immunotherapy, is not as overwhelming for the little ones. Registered Nurse Lisa Gaton has been working at the hospital with the children for years now.
"So you would think hopefully with targeted therapy, you would have less therapy, less medicine, so therefore, the side effects would be less in severity and less in duration," she said.
The procedure attacks specific cancer cells, without impacting the amount of normal cells often seen with chemo. Small hurdles in the the world of childhood cancer, but for the Nathan, the bigger battle continues.
"But I kind of knew that Jesus had a plan for my life," he said, "and that's why I'm here."