An East Tennessee girl is spending a lot of time in West Tennessee for specialized cancer treatment.
It's going great!
Her family wants to give back to the hospital that's helping her get healthy.
"She loves to play piano, play basketball, loves her American Girl doll and just enjoys life," Lynn Stanger said.
She is Audrey Stanger who celebrated her 8th birthday Monday.
She likes playing piano at her house in Sevierville where she lives with her her siblings, Charlie and Georgia Kate, and her parents Marshall and Lynn.
"She's very spunky, she's very headstrong, she's very smart. And she puts her whole self into whatever she is doing," Lynn said.
Audrey said, "I like to draw and color and paint. I actually painted a picture while I was at St. Jude so that was pretty fun."
Audrey is a regular patient at St. Jude Children's Research Hospital In Memphis because of a rare condition discovered just after she started first grade.
"She has IMT, which is Inflammatory Miofibrolastic Tumor, " Lynn said. "The first one we found was in her lung. It was the size of a baseball and that was surgically removed successfully and then about six weeks later we had another baseball sized tumor. And this was when we went to St. Jude."
Audrey's father Marshall said, "We were recommended to St. Jude from East Tennessee Children's Hospital because of the rarity of her type of tumor the recommended us to St. Jude."
She takes chemo twice a day at home and flies to St. Jude about once a month for treatment and scans.
It's fun. There's activities I can do," Audrey said. "I got that calendar actually at St. Jude. I just never got to finish it so I took it."
The second tumor is shrinking.
"We literally have some of the best doctors in the world reviewing her case each time she goes out there," Marshall said.
Betsy Harr with St. Jude Children's Research Hospital explained, "They get top of the line research and facilities and doctors and they never receive a bill from St. Jude. No family ever pays for anything."
She said that's the hospital's policy even though top care like Audrey receives is expensive.
"Our operating costs per day are $1.8 million dollars," Harr said.
The Stanger family wants to give back to the hospital that has given them back their little girl's health.
Friends will join Audrey and her dad as he tackles a full marathon at the Country Music Marathon next month in Nashville and she runs about two and a half miles.
"I ran the kids fun run last year," Audrey said.
Marshall said, "For a little girl who had trouble running around the playground initially because of the tumor in her lung... to be able to run in a race, you know, it's kind of incredible."
"Our community and our friends and our family have really rallied around us and they're going to be joining us. We've got about 50 or 60 runners right now." Marshall said.
Audrey's looking forward to the race.
St. Jude Country Music Marathon
April 27, 2013
When she reflects on time at st. Jude it's all positive.
"One of my best friend's classes they sent me books, they sent me cards that they made and they made books and it was really cool," she said.
Audrey has some advice for other kids who may end up at a special hospital far from home.
"It's fun and there's really nothing to worry about."