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You Visit Tour. Webb Lion Fountain. June 1 2017. Photo David B. Hollingsworth

VIDEO: Student Writes Inspiring Memoir About Son's Cancer

By Noell Saunders

Christina Johnson was hit with devastating news twice in the spring of 2017.

Her 3-year-old son David was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer that April. Six weeks later, a close aunt passed away.

"It's hard to say what I was feeling," Johnson said. "I was dealing with it emotionally, physically and mentally."

Johnson kept a diary about this difficult time. She turned it to a memoir called "Fighting for King David," which was inspired by the biblical story of David and Goliath. The memoir is available on Amazon.

"David was a young boy just like my son. He was courageous when he fought the giant that was twice his size. My son David is a fighter just like him," Johnson said.

She said her memoir is aimed at helping mothers and other caregivers cope during challenging and frightening circumstances.

David was diagnosed with a neuroblastoma - a rare tumor that is often found in the small adrenal glands on top of the kidneys. The disease can develop in the belly, chest, neck, pelvis and bones. Children age 5 or younger are most commonly affected. Although cancer in children is rare, it is the leading cause of death by disease past infancy among children in the United States, according the National Cancer Institute.

Johnson said she never doubted her son's strength, but watching him go through a series of chemotherapy treatments and struggles was frightening. Her own strength was tested.

It was tested even further in May 2017 when her aunt died as Johnson received her associate's degree from Tidewater Community College.

"We were very close. She looked after me. While I was graduating, my aunt was taking her last breath," Johnson recalled.

But things are looking up for her and her family now. Johnson is pursuing a bachelor's degree in human services at Old Dominion University and her son is in remission. She said there's a lot to be thankful for.

"We got a call that David was cancer-free," she said. "This holiday will be different."

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