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If life gives you sour lemons, this young cancer patient says all you need is a positive outlook

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Posted at 9:00 PM, Jul 01, 2021
and last updated 2021-07-01 21:00:53-04

RICHMOND, Va. -- Josie Economy never lets an obstacle big or small sour her mood.

“If you look at it like a bad day, then you’re going to trick your mind into having a bad day,” said Josie.

Living with dyslexia, dyscalculia and dysgraphia, the 11-year-old encounters trouble organizing letters and digits.

“I flip numbers and I flip reading, and that kind of thing,” she said.

But the sixth grader’s disorders pale in comparison to an ordeal that began two years ago.

“I had extreme pain in my lower back kind of area,” recalled Josie.

The young dancer and her mom, Jennifer, initially thought she may have torn or pulled a muscle.

“I just broke down in class because I couldn’t bear the pain,” Josie said.

Jennifer felt helpless.

“Of course we started the emergency room visits because she would be screaming in pain,” said Jennifer. “It got to the point where she couldn’t walk.”

Then one day Josie’s life would forever change. “September 11, 2019."

Scans revealed the worst. A tumor the size of a baseball.

“The last thing when you bring a child with back pain in to the doctor is they have a huge tumor, because it's so rare, because it's so not common," says Jennifer.

How rare? Ewings Sarcoma rears its ugly head in only 200 American children every year.

“Even though it was sad, they were trying something and hopefully that was going to help,” said Josie.

And so began months-long stays in the hospital, and rounds of chemotherapy.

“All the memories I have there make me feel bad because chemo is just generally gross,” described Josie.

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The treatments worked. Last December, doctors at Children’s Hospital shared encouraging news about her shrinking tumor.

“It made feel a lot better. Made me feel a lot happier,” said Josie.

But in February, the aggressive cancer returned. This time in her lungs.

“Very crummy. It was not fun being there,” she said.

“Josie had not been out of her room for days, so they put her in the wheelchair,” recalled Jennifer.

Before her cancer, Josie’s teacher officially recognized her as the "Little Engine That Could."

“She got that one right because Josie is the one who won’t give up,” said Jennifer.

Needing a boost, a silver lining for this little locomotive will arrive this summer. Josie will be the face of Anthem Lemonaid, a fundraiser for boys and girls battling cancer.

“Josie has always loved lemons. She likes lemon motifs. Her clothes have lemons. Yellow is her favorite color. He shoes have lemons on them,” said Jennifer.

Josie is wearing the crown of ambassador proudly. Daring everyone, including this reporter, to the lemon challenge.

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She carries the responsibility all while receiving life-saving medicine.

“She has two more rounds of chemo and two more radiation treatments and if everything goes OK she should be done by the end of August,” said Jennifer.

We all face obstacles in our personal and professional lives. But remember when life gives you sour lemons, Josie Economy may have the sweetest prescription of them all.

“It makes me really happy about it because I get to help people now, like me,” smiled Josie. “Here is my outlook If you know it was not going to be the complete end of the world and if you know it's fixable, have a positive outlook on it.”

For more information on the Anthem Lemonaid, click here.

If you know someone I should feature in my “Heroes Among Us” email me at heroes@wtvr.com

Greg McQuade features local heroes in a weekly “Heroes Among Us” segment. Watch Greg’s reports Thursdays on CBS News at 6 or here on WTVR.com. If you would like to nominate someone to be featured on “Heroes Among Us,” click here to email heroes@wtvr.com.

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