Local 3-year-old battles softball-sized tumor

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News 12 at 11 o'clock/ Wednesday, Oct. 23rd, 2013

AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW) -- In just one week the life of a Gloverville family has been flipped upside down after getting news no parent ever wants to hear; your child has cancer.

But the family didn't have to go far to get the 3-year-old the help she needs.

Surrounded by her favorite things Leigha Craig sits in her hospital bed, a place she's called home for the last week

"It was just like that, like a blink of an eye," explained her aunt Summer Pica. "It was like one minute she's fine playing, the next minute she's in the hospital being admitted for cancer."

Last weekend Leigha was playing in the yard when her mom noticed a knot on her side.

"It was like a hard rock like a big knot in her stomach," explained her mom Ashley Craig.

As it continued to grow she decided to bring her to Children's Hospital of Georgia.

"I just figured nothing of it. They were just gonna throw out examples of what it could be and what it couldn't be but when they actually said it was cancer that's when it hits you," said Ashley.

Preliminary tests show Leigha had a Wilms tumor, a kidney cancer found in around 500 children each year.

"We couldn't believe it," said Ashley. "They said it was bigger than a softball."

The tumor was isolated to just one kidney. On Thursday, they removed the kidney and with it the whole tumor.

"The surgery went awesome," said Pica. "Anything could've gone wrong in that surgery. Anything." But it didn't and her family says they have a guardian angel to thank for that.

Leigha's grandfather died almost three years ago after he went missing while fishing on Clarks Hill Lake.

"It's like the ball drops again," said Pica. "After my dad. Not finding his body for 30 days and then right at almost 3 years later we find out my niece has cancer."

Leigha keeps his picture at her bedside so she knows Paps is still with her.

"I wish he was here, but I know deep down inside, just like the rest of the family does, he's up above watching down on Leigha," said Pica. "No doubt in my mind he is watching down on her."

But they say God helped them through that and they have faith he'll get them through this as well.

"God has a plan. He has a reason for everything he does. He will never put you through anything he will not help you get through," said Pica.

The surgery also removed part of her lymph nodes. They are awaiting final pathology for final confirmation that it is a Wilms tumor. This type of cancer accounts for 7 percent of all childhood cancers.

Up next Leigha will go through 20 to 40 rounds of chemotherapy. Outpatient treatment that usually lasts around 6 months.

It can come back in the lungs within the first few years bu they say that's not common. Usually they do very well recovering from this.

The family is asking for prayers. They have a facebook page called Prayers for Leigha. To see the page and follow her progress click here: https://www.facebook.com/groups/632549516768390/

They are also planning a fundraiser for her.

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