PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – The shrapnel left small red scars on the leg of 6-year-old Denean Thomas. She has been on the fourth floor of Children’s Hospital since Sunday night, when she was shot twice in the leg.
“She’s a champion,” said her father, Darnell Thomas. “Strongest little girl I know.”
Denean was sitting with her cousins at 18th and Tasker streets when police say someone opened fire, hitting Denean and her two cousins. Police say one of the cousins, a 17-year-old male, was the intended target. They are expected to be fine, but it is little Denean who will have to fight for her life long after she leaves the hospital.
“She’s been through more things in her six years than most people experience in a lifetime,” said her mother, Latitia Johnston.
Denean was diagnosed with intrinsic pontine glioma – an inoperable brain tumor – a year ago. She went through 30 radiation treatments, but in May, her parents found out the tumor is growing again.
“She knows something is wrong, but she doesn’t let it get her down,” said Thomas.
Doctors gave her a year to live.
“We’re trying to get out there to mostly get a second opinion, because I think she deserves it,” said Johnston. “She didn’t ask for this.”
While Denean works toward second grade, her parents work for a second chance.
“I’ll go to the ends of the earth and back for any of my children,” Johnston added.
Family and friends like Denise Wells are raising money for Denean, hoping a hospital like St. Jude’s in Memphis will admit her for more treatment.
“There’s always hope,” Wells said.
Denean’s family says the tumor is not the end. Like the bullets that hit Denean’s leg, the tumor is one more challenge for her to overcome.
Reported by Oren Liebermann, CBS 3