WARNER ROBINS, Ga. — In December 2020, we reported that former Northside High School student, Phenix Cowart had to graduate early from school because she was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia (AML).
It's a type of cancer of the blood and bone marrow. According to the American Cancer Society, "sometimes AML develops in other types of blood-forming cells."
Cowart began her treatment in December 2020 when she found out about her diagnosis.
"The life that I had once known was about to take a whole 180 turn," Cowart said.
When she arrived she was introduced to one of the night nurses, Morgan Van Den Eynde.
"I think we both came into each other's lives at a time when she needed support, and I needed to see the joy and good things and rekindle like my purpose, and so just the timing of it was divine," Van Den Eynde said.
They spend many nights together talking about life, eating Chinese food together on Valentine's Day, and what Cowart's life would be like when she was in remission.
Van Den Eydne knew she was more than just her nurse.
"I think the Lord just kind of placed, both of us in each other's lives when she was exhausted and sick of being in the hospital, and needed some fun that I could kind of offer," Van Den Eydne said.
Cowart stayed at the Children's Healthcare of Atlanta - Scottish Rite Hospital for her chemo treatment. She had her first bone marrow treatment in April 2021.
"I did three rounds that I stayed a month each in the hospital. And whenever you do intense treatment, your immune system dies and comes back," Cowart said.
Cowart told 13WMAZ there were days of intense treatment, and 12-hour spans without eating but she never felt lonely. She says she was comfortable enough to stay in the hospital without her family there because she had her nurse-turned-friend, Van Den Eydne who was there for her support.
The support was needed more than ever after Cowart had a relapse and had to have a second bone marrow transplant in January 2022. She was heartbroken to know her cancer had returned but was determined to keep going.
When she felt strong enough, Cowart applied to college and was accepted into Life University in Marietta, Georgia.
"I'm going to go for clinical nutrition and become a dietician so that I hope to help kids. Maybe kids, but definitely oncology patients with their nutrition because I know how hard it is to gain weight rather than lose it," Cowart said.
Cowart will start classes on Monday and plans to be in remission in August 2023. She says without support from friends, family, and her nurse-turned-best friend, her push to fight cancer wouldn't be possible.
"She just helped me remember that this will all be over soon and when it is over, we'll be able to go to lunch together and be normal," Cowart said.