The 15-year-old was diagnosed with a brain tumor in March 2019. But she wakes up every day with a smile on her face.
"I think, because we're younger, it's harder," she said. "But kids are pretty strong."
Sitting by her side are two pieces of strong evidence to support her claim. The first is Hannah Hermansen, 17, who survived Lymphoma. The other is Sydney Nihill, 16, who beat Leukemia twice.
But Lily's army doesn't stop there. She walks with a brigade of creative best friends at all times.
"When we heard about it, all of us collectively knew that we couldn't just ignore it," said Lucy McCullough of Lily's diagnosis. "It was something that we had to take action for."
They created the Instagram account, @beadsforacure_, and quickly gained hundreds of followers. Creating and selling t-shirts, bracelets and keychains, they raised over $2,000 for child life services at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia.
CHOP became a second home to these young ladies as they braved their battles.
"You lose friends and you gain friends," said Sydney Nihill about the long days in the hospital. "Your nurses are your friends basically. It was nice to have that because they made it so much better."
Although the teens received terrific care, they are fighting for more funding. According to the National Pediatric Cancer Foundation, "Only 4% of the billions of dollars the government spends annually on cancer research is directed towards treating childhood cancer."
Another alarming statistic comes from the NPCF, as they write, "Each day, 43 kids in the US are expected to be diagnosed with cancer."
Such information is enough to shake the cores of these high school students as they sit at a picnic table making bead crafts. Among the six of them, half have battled cancer.
Lucy McCullough said, "Change starts with awareness and we need to be spreading awareness in order to get the change we need and they need."
Another friend, Lily Ewing, said, "We are only teenagers and there's so much more we can do because we're young. We can do so much more in life to make a change and honestly I'm hoping to see a cure by then."
September is childhood cancer awareness month, but these young ladies sell their creations year-round. To learn more or to purchase a craft, find them on Instagram by the username @beadsforacure_.
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