James Richardson Jr., of Columbia, whose friends and family call him L.J., was in second grade when he was diagnosed with nasal pharyngeal carcinoma, a rare form of head and neck cancer that affected his speech and caused problems with swallowing.
A bright spot during Richardson’s cancer treatment was the opportunity to attend CAMP KEMO, a camp provided by the Children’s Cancer and Blood Disorders Center at Palmetto Health Children’s Hospital, which serves children with pediatric cancer. “In my elementary school, I was the only child with cancer. When I went to CAMP KEMO, I got to be around other kids like me. Everyone knew my name and everyone made me feel so welcome.”
This summer, Richardson, 21, will serve as a counselor for the fourth time. “I had some of the best experiences of my life attending CAMP KEMO and I always try to make sure new campers get that same warm welcome and positive experience that I had.”
Richardson is grateful for his pediatric oncology treatment team which included Ronnie Neuberg, M.D., Kevin McRedmond, M.D., Robin Brown Jones, RN, Julian Ruffin, Ph.D. and many others. “The entire nursing staff means so much to me,” added Richardson.
Richardson also volunteers at Lasting Impressions (a program for teens with cancer) and New Horizons (a camp for children who have lost a sibling to cancer or a blood disorder). He is a pre-med biology major at the University of South Carolina and also works in the Research Department there. “I want to go into oncology or become a cardiothoracic surgeon,” he said. He loves to travel and is active in fishing, fitness and water sports.
He especially looks forward to a day at the lake during CAMP KEMO, when campers of all ages spend an entire day together on the water.
CAMP KEMO is June 12-17 at River Oaks Retreat in Honea Path. CAMP KEMO is funded by donations. One way to donate is directly through CAMP KEMO’s site, campsite.palmettohealth.org.