CODEN, Ala. (WALA) - A local 4-year-old girl has had to grow up very quickly. She just learned that she has a dangerous tumor in her spine.
She may have just turned 4, but age means nothing to Natalie Milcher.
She's an accomplished beauty pageant contestant.
"She loves 'em. She does," said her mother Jamie Hill.
And she'll tell you she's the lucky girlfriend of Justin Bieber. We just gotta make sure Justin knows that! Age means nothing to Natalie, and sadly, age means nothing to a tumor. The tumor is in her spine, C-7 and C-6," said Hill.
Last year, Natalie started having weird symptoms: pain in her left leg, tremors in her left hand and her left pupil would dilate.
Doctors soon found a grape-sized tumor on her spine.
Hill said, "She turned 4 the day she got out for her second surgery."
Local doctors could not remove the tumor and the family doesn't know yet if it's cancerous.
So, next week, the family is going on a long trip to find some help.
Natalie and her mom are driving to Indiana to seek treatment.
Their medical expenses are taken care of, but they're raising funds to pay for the travel and hotel costs.
It's quite a lot to deal with for a 4-year-old, and the setbacks of cancer are very real.
"(Natalie) actually understands way more than a normal 4-year-old would," said Hill. "We tell her there are pretty scarves, stuff like that."
Family friend Angela Hurst is helping to raise funds.
Hurst befriended the family after learning of Natalie's condition.
Hurst said, "At one time, God blessed me when my results came back. I thought my daughters had hereditary colon cancer."
So now Hurst feels it's her mission to help this family.
"A child can't help (herself). You have to help them. You have to be their rock, their support," said Hurst.
But this family is optimistic. She may be quite mature for her age, but she has plenty more growing up to do.
Natalie and her mother hit the road on Sunday.
If you'd like to help out the family, a bingo benefit will be held for Natalie this Saturday at the Coden
A blood drive will also be held in Natalie's honor. This event will occur on October 27at the Red Cross Donor Center on Demotropolis Road.
The family has set up a benefit account. Donations can be made at any First Community Bank Branch. Just ask for the Natalie P. Milcher benefit fund.
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