LAKE PLACID - When her toddler's pain and fever persisted after a fall from a Power Wheel toy car, Brandi Hornick didn't believe the original diagnosis of a broken tail bone.
Brandi said she and her husband, Raymond, went from "hospital to hospital and doctor to doctor" to find out what was going on with their daughter, 2 1/2-year-old Tori.
"I started insisting that someone help her because the pain was getting bad," she said.
Finally the doctors from Arnold Palmer Hospital and Nemours Children's Clinic in Orlando determined that Tori had a medical problem other than a broken tailbone and that she should be admitted to the hospital, Brandi said.
Tori had a purple lump on the base of her lumbar, which was surgically removed.
Doctors had given her a 50/50 chance of survival because they weren't sure what type of tumor Tori had, Brandi said.
A biopsy showed it was a germ cell yolk sac tumor, which is very rare, she said, with only 1 percent of children with cancer having that type of cancer.
After four rounds of chemotherapy, Tori needed physical therapy and had to learn how to walk again, but she was free of cancer.
Tori, now 17, has been home schooled for a number of years and will be completing her high school education next month.
"I really don't remember any of it," she said of her illness. "I am very blessed to have survived such a rare cancer."
Brandi added, "she did well; we are glad she is alive."
Now the thankful mother is recruiting volunteers for the Cancer Prevention Study-3 (CPS-3). The American Cancer Society refers to the recruiters as "champions."
She is spreading the word about the study on her Facebook page and has recruited a few family members.
Brandi hopes that one day the study will help prevent other children and adults from suffering from cancer and the side affects of its treatment. She believes too many children in Highlands County are being diagnosed with cancer.
"Maybe our future generations won't have to go through cancer if they can figure out a cure," she said.
CPS-3 is the fourth comprehensive cancer prevention study. It is funded and managed by the American Cancer Society Department of Epidemiology & surveillance Research.
Those eligible for the study are men and women between the age of 30 and 65 who have no personal history of cancer and are willing to make a long-term commitment.
An enrollment session for the study will be held 4-8 p.m., Nov. 14, at the outpatient lab area of Highlands Regional Medical Center.
During the enrollment session, participants will be asked to complete a survey packet and provide a waist circumference measurement and a small blood sample. They will be asked to complete mailed questionnaires every few years to update lifestyle, environment and medical information.
For more information or to make an appointment go to www.cancer.org/cps3florida.
Those who wish to register by phone can call 1-888-604-5888.
Walk-ins will be accepted, but those with appointment times will take first priority.
Brandi and Raymond will be participating in the study.
"We are doing it in honor of her [Tori]," Brandi said.