FORT MILL, SC (WJZY) - It turns out an injury during soccer practice helped one Fort Mill teenager discover he had a rare form of cancer.
FOX 46 sat down with Westley Peterson who said getting hit in the stomach with a ball may have saved his life.
Westley went to the doctor unsure of what may be wrong, but the word 'cancer' never crossed his mind. A typically healthy teen with no family history of the disease, Westley didn't know what to think when he was diagnosed.
But one thing we was sure of - that soccer ball - is the reason he is alive.
"They said it's a mass in my kidney and so they had to remove my kidney. They were 99 percent sure it was cancer," Westley said.
It's a phrase no parents wants to hear, "your child has cancer".
"It was unbelievable that, things like that don't happen in your own family, it's everybody else's family," Janet Peterson said, Westley's mom.
Doctors told the Petersons' Westley had a rare form of cancer, called a Wilms tumor.
"I wasn't expecting that. I went in because they thought it was kidney stones and came out knowing it was cancer, so that was definitely a very shocking moment," Westley said.
Just a few days later, his right kidney was removed.
"Once they had it out they found out it had gone to one of the lymph nodes. Then the whole protocol of chemotherapy and radiation came into place," Janet Peterson said.
Now, Westley is going through radiation treatment and will undergo 21 weeks of chemo.
"At that point, it went so fast that we really didn't have a whole lot of time to think about it or process it, which was probably good," Janet Peterson said.
This all started when Westley was hit with a soccer ball while at practice in March.
"We were warming up and kicking the ball back and forth and I just kicked it to my friend and he kicked it back, and it hit me in the stomach," Westley explained.
Two days later Westley found blood in his urine. His parents immediately took him to the E.R. and a CT scan, uncovered the tumor.
"I think everything happens for a reason, and I think getting hit with the soccer ball led us down the path to find the tumor before it spread," Janet Peterson said.
Doctors told the family that this form of cancer moves fast through the body, and that they're lucky to have caught it when they did.
Westley is on the road to recovery and said he'll continue to play the sport that may have saved his life.
"I'm definitely going to play for a while now," he said.
Because this type of cancer normally forms in children much younger than Westley, his family said his tumor has been submitted to be studied by the Children's Oncology Group, the world's largest organization devoted to childhood cancer research.
Westley had his final radiation treatment Monday, April 18.
LINK to Children's Oncology Group
LINK to Westley's GoFundMe account