Young boy battling brain, spinal tumors moves to Orlando for Arnold Palmer Hospital

Pearson Martin's parents say their son is not defined by his disease

By Allison McGinley - News Director

ORLANDO, Fla. - Pearson Martin is only 10 years old, but he's fighting for his life. You'd never know if to look at him.

In fact, he's not even going to tell you.

It was only because Local 6 followed him around with a camera that he just had to tell his friends something, "I'm going to be on TV for cancer survivors," said Martin.

Survivor might not be strong enough a word to describe Martin.

For four years, he's battled recurring brain and spinal cord tumors. His latest tumor is right above his eye.

"He's not defined by his disease. It's just part of his life. He gives me so much to live for and to look forward to," said Shana Martin, his mother.

So Shana Martin brings her son to Arnold Palmer Hospital a lot. She and her husband, Derek, are determined to make sure their son gets the chance to squeeze every bit of life out of every day.

"We're not going to let this diagnosis cause us to shrivel up and hide away," said Derek Martin.

Amy Smith is Martin's doctor and Director for Pediatric Neuro-oncology at the Center for Children's Cancer and Blood Disorders at Arnold Palmer Hospital.

Smith is the only doctor who does what she does in Central Florida.

"We're here to find a cure for pediatric brain tumors," said Smith.

Smith arrived at the hospital last year to get started on her mission. Pearson and his family believe in her so much they moved to Orlando to stay in her care.

"We knew in our heart that it was the right thing for Pearson that he would be with his doctors," said Derek Martin.

"I always tell children 'I'm your doctor, not your mommy and daddy's doctor, so I'll always tell you the truth,'" said Smith.

And the truth is often tough to tell.

"To have someone tell you your child has a brain tumor... it was just so unbelievable," said Shana Martin.

"I hate those conversations when I have to sit across from a parent and say I'm sorry, there's nothing more I can do," said Smith.

But Martin's family knows Smith is doing everything in her power to find a cure.

"Her goal in life is to get this thing cured. I know it is. I know it is and that's my prayer... that she does," said Shana Martin.

"Do I always hope for a cure? Absolutely. And so do his parents. Do we know the reality? Yeah we do and when we have to talk about it, we do," explained Smith.

Martin's dad says he's amazed by his son every day.

"He's an amazing inspiration. If I were ever to get sick, he would be the first person I would look to and remember what he's been through,"  he said.

Of course Martin knows he's a sick kid. He's got the scars to prove it, but he sees the positive side of everything -- including those scars.

"Chicks dig scars," said Martin as his eyes twinkled and his smile widened.

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