One year later: Pandemic limits travel for Kingsport 10-year-old battling cancer


KINGSPORT, Tenn. (WJHL)- September marks National Childhood Cancer Awareness Month.

43 kids in the United States are expected to be diagnosed with cancer, each day, according to the National Pediatric Cancer Foundation.

News Channel 11’s Pheben Kassahun revisited a Kingsport 10-year-old, Kw’Shawn Watterson, who has been battling Wilms Tumor, since his diagnosis in 2018.

In the last year, Kw’Shawn Watterson has been to Memphis, Nashville, and even as far as Texas for treatment.

Recently, COVID-19 has kept them closer to home.

The family is now hoping to bring awareness amid the pandemic.

“Be strong,” Kw’Shawn Watterson told Pheben Kassahun in a Zoom call, Monday morning.

Being strong is something the 10-year-old has to constantly remind himself.

Kw’Shawn’s mother, Destiny Fields said, “Now we’re home to Kingsport. So, now we just go to Johnson City and that’s what we’ll plan to do in November, as well. We’ll just keep going to Johnson City until things start getting a little easy around here.”

Kw’Shawn is fighting a rare disease called Wilms Tumor. It is a kidney cancer that left him with one kidney after the tumor burst and spread to his lungs.

Fields said, “November will be a year of cancer free. He actually did his last treatment, last year on Thanksgiving.”

Almost one year later Kw’Shawn and his family is celebrating the good news.

However, being cancer free does not necessarily mean the tumor has completely disappeared.

According to Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center, the cancer may come back to the same place as the original primary tumor or to another place in the body. If you remain in complete remission for five years or more, some doctors may say that you are cured, or cancer-free.

“People hear the words, ‘cancer free’ and they’re like, ‘oh, everything’s fine’ but it’s really not how it works in our world. We still go every three months for scans, blood work, checking kidney functions, I mean the whole 9,” his mother told Kassahun. “And every three months, we get the same anxiety and stress and, freak out and pray. It’s not as easy as everyone thinks it is but we get by.”

During September, which is National Childhood Cancer Awareness Month, his mother hopes to shed light on the cause.

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.

“The kids just don’t get what they need. I mean, as far as awareness, people just think that it’s just so rare and it’s really not.

So, she is asking you donate to help kids like her son. Fields said the community has been so supportive throughout the process.

Fields said, “Kingsport’s community was great. From Jackson Elementary to Dobyns-Bennett High School, I mean everyone just came together. They actually, Jackson Elementary’s teacher, Lexi Bradshaw was actually the first person to do our first fundraiser for us through the city.”

In the meantime, this 10-year-old continues to maneuver through life by staying busy with home school.

“I pulled both of my kids from city schools and they are doing actual home school this year. I moved to Graveyard so that I can balance a little bit better. I get off at 9 a.m., we do some school from 10-2, she said. “He’s been doing great in school this year, haven’t you. He’s going on a trip, actually tomorrow. He’ll leave out tomorrow and return Thursday. They’re going to Chattanooga for home school field trip.

While school has been his priority, Kw’Shawn has picked up a few new hobbies during quarantine.

“I play Tetris,” Kw’Shawn said.
Mom: “What do you collect now that’s different?”
“Pokemon cards,” he said.
Mom: “He loves it. He is obsessed with Pokemon cards.”

You can follow Kw’Shawn Watterson’s journey on Facebook, here.

Those who would like to help donate, can visit these websites to donate:

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