CHANDLER, Ariz. — “Sweet 16” has a different meaning when you’re diagnosed with cancer at 15.
That’s what happened to Julia Mitchell, a Chandler teen who found out she has Ewing Sarcoma in August.
Julia has a tumor in her right hip, and, in order to survive, doctors had to perform surgery and Julia has had to endure months of radiation and chemotherapy.
Julia decided to document her experience, and she’s built up more than 1,000 subscribers on YouTube, sharing videos that track her journey to, hopefully, a victory over the disease.
Her mother, Wendy, and father Jason have also taken Julia’s cancer battle online, with a Facebook group called Julia’s Journey that has more than 3,000 members.
Thursday was Julia’s 16th birthday, and instead of going to the internet to talk about cancer, the “internet” came to her.
“I posted in the community asking what we should do for her birthday,” Wendy said. “The community suggested a little parade, and so here we are.”
Dozens of emergency vehicles, classic cars, friends, and neighbors drove by the Mitchell home on Firestone Drive, honking their horns and shouting “Happy Birthday!” out of the windows.
It was all a surprise to Julia, who had no idea this was coming.
“For my birthday, I was expecting to get chemo and then come home and have pizza with my family,” Julia said.
Then a light blue Volkswagen Beetle pulled up.
“This is YOUR car,” the passenger shouted to Julia. “Happy birthday!” A follower of the Facebook group donated the vehicle.
“I’m actually speechless,” Julia said.
Because of her surgery, Julia can’t walk right now, and she hasn’t passed her driver’s test either. Someday, though, she’ll be able to take her new Bug for a spin.
Her plans are as simple as you might expect from a 16-year old girl: she said she wants to take her family to the mall.
Up to Speed
Catch up on the latest news and stories on the 12 News YouTube channel. Subscribe today.