Chandler cancer victim, 16, gets a big surprise - SanTan Sun News SanTan Sun News

Chandler cancer victim, 16, gets a big surprise

January 30th, 2022 development
Chandler cancer victim, 16, gets a big surprise

By Ken Sain, Staff Writer

Julia Mitchell, a then 15-year-old south Chandler resident, looks into the camera without and hair on her head. She seems fearless, looking into the camera. However, right before her big announcement her eyes look away.

“I have a bone cancer, which is called Ewing sarcoma,” she says in her first YouTube video documenting her journey in fighting cancer. “I have a tumor, a 6-inch tumor, in my right hip.”

Her first video has been watched more than 20,000 times.

And some of those viewers were likely among those who came out on Jan. 20 to help the high school sophomore celebrate her 16th birthday.

Julia’s family planned a drive-by parade in front of their house. They set up a big easy chair for Julia to sit in and made sure she had a blanket to stay warm.

Julia attended Basha High School last year, but switched to Chandler Online Academy after being diagnosed in August. She has since taken a break from her studies to focus on her health.

Hundreds of cars drove past, with many of their drivers shouting happy birthday. The parade included Chandler Fire and Police vehicles, a Lamborghini, classic Mustangs, Corvettes and even the more common Hyundais and Hondas seen every day on the road.

The line was long and just kept coming. One family member guessed there had to be more than 400 vehicles.

“We are so thankful for everybody’s support, and prayers and encouragement to get through this,” mom Wendy Mitchell said. “I don’t think people can do this on their own. It’s too much.”

The idea was suggested in a Facebook group called Julia’s Journey. That’s where many of the people learned of it.

One car stood out from the rest – a light blue Volkswagen Beatle. What made it special is that it was the car the community bought it for Julia as a birthday present.

“I was not expecting that at all,” Julia said. “I thought there’d be, like, 10, 20 cars driving by and saying ‘happy birthday.’

Sandra Row donated $5,000 toward the new car. Others in the community chipped in an additional $1,800, Wendy said. Van’s Chevrolet then contributed the rest so Julia had her own car.

Julia doesn’t have her license yet, so she can’t drive it for a while. She plans to get her license once she can walk again after recovering from hip surgery.

In her videos, she’s honest about the process she is going through. She talks of her anxiety attacks, having to cut her hair, the bags under her eyes and the crying she’s done.

Julia starts off her second video warning viewers if they don’t like to hearing about vomit, they should stop watching. She describes undergoing six rounds of chemo as part of her treatment before she had surgery last month.

She said she started doing the videos to raise awareness among people her age, saying that she had never heard of chemo before she was diagnosed.

Julia said she had a hard time dealing with the diagnosis over the summer.

“I was in disbelief for a very long time,” she said. “It’s still kind of hard to cope with.”

She said she’s heard from many other young people who are going through the same experience and that motivates her.

Julia says in one video that if she can help just one person better understand what they’re about to go through, it would be worth it.

“I feel like not many people know about this – or not enough, at least,” Julia said.

“I’m really proud of her,” mom Wendy said. “I know she’s strong. She started doing the videos to raise awareness, it really blows my mind. I’m so thankful to be her mom.”