Like many 5-year-old boys, C.J. Tull wants to grow up to be a superhero, but many people think he already is.
C.J. went in for a routine tonsillectomy a few months ago and left having to cope with a diagnosis of cancer.
The pathologist had discovered an aggressive lymphoma in one of C.J.'s tonsils. He soon returned to the hospital for surgery.
Fortunately, the cancer proved noninvasive, but C.J. still had to endure eight weeks of preventive chemotherapy he completed two weeks ago.
He still likes to ride his bike, read to his younger brother and sister, swim and pretend to be Spiderman, but he has a shiny pate and a wisdom in his eyes that is characteristic of many children who have survived life-threatening illness.
His mom, Catherine, 29, is thankful the cancer was removed before it spread.
"It's a miracle," the stay-at-home mom said. "We are very, very fortunate."
The mother also has her hands full caring for her and her other four children: Mekailyn, 13; Kameron, 10;Tyler, 2; and Madison, 1. Her thoughts have not ventured into how they will pay all of the medical bills that have yet to arrive, but she knows it will be difficult.
A medication to combat nausea from the chemotherapy costs $2,600 for each prescription. The Tulls get the generic version for about $1,230, but her husband Robert's insurance only pays for half of that.
The Leroy Springs Recreation Complex preschool that C.J. attended began fund raising, as did Founder's Federal Credit Union, Belle Vive Spa and Carolina Pilates. Last weekend, Carolina Pilates owner Terry Shaw held a day of games, food, massages and other activities at her center with all proceeds going to the Tulls. On Monday, Catherine said the event raised approximately $1,000.
Shaw also has established the nonprofit Forgotten Child Foundation to raise money for families that face insurmountable bills.
Anyone wishing to make a donation may make a check payable to the Forgotten Child Foundation or C.J. Shaw and drop it off at 1st Citizen's Bank at Hwy. 160 and Gold Hill Road or mail or drop it by Carolina Pilates, 856 Gold Hill Road, Ste. 112, Fort Mill, SC 29708.
"We are very grateful for all the generosity," C.J.'s mother said.
C.J. expects to enter kindergarten at Fort Mill Elementary in the coming school year. He's looking forward to it.
And he's looking forward to growing up and becoming Spiderman.