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Twelve-year-old stands strong in fight against cancer; family credits faith, church supportcomment (0)

January 3, 2008

By Brian Blackwell

Twelve-year-old, cancer-stricken Amira Bridges is a living miracle. And she is just part of a string of miracles for the Bridges family, who have survived such setbacks as three hurricanes and a fire that severely damaged Carl Bridges’ business.

Through the trials and tribulations, the Bridgeses have remained optimistic, thanks to efforts from Faith Baptist Church, Moulton, and the hope that can only be found in Jesus Christ.

“Carl and I have been through so much during the 16 years we have been married,” Nicki Bridges said. “There have been so many people that have asked how we have survived. I told them we can’t give up, because it’s not our strength but God’s who has helped get us through all these ordeals.”

Their story began in March 2004, when they were living in Port St. Lucie, Fla. Amira had been complaining about pains in her thigh. At first, Nicki thought that the healthy girl’s injury was minor. A series of medical tests and visits to the hospital and doctor’s office soon revealed that she had chronic myelogenous leukemia, a rare form of cancer normally found in middle-aged adults.

Doctors told the family Amira had a 2 to 10 percent chance of survival for one year. But she refused to give up. Believing she had a fighting chance, Amira opted for medicine not yet approved for children and a bone marrow transplant.

The Bridgeses drove nine days in September 2004 to Seattle, where they spent the next six weeks in an apartment while Amira received the transplant and other cancer treatments. During their stay, Nicki said prayer and support from family and friends helped them survive the ordeal.

“We had shirts made during our time in Seattle, saying ‘We’re asking God for Amiracle,’” Nicki said. “And we got it more than once.”

While in Seattle, the family learned that hurricanes Frances and Jeanne had come ashore in Florida, severely damaging its home. A third storm — Hurricane Wilma — made landfall in October 2005.

While that storm caused little damage to the home, the Bridgeses felt it was time to move to another state farther north. Carl and Nicki had always talked about making the move, wanting to live closer to their parents near Moulton so their children — Amira; Travis, now 15; and Holly, now 10 — would be able to grow up around their grandparents.

By October 2006, Chick-fil-A had transferred Carl to Decatur, where he serves as a manager, and the family had moved into a new home in Trinity.

An August 2007 grease fire, however, severely damaged the fast-food restaurant’s building, temporarily displacing Carl and other workers to locations up to an hour away until the Decatur location reopened Nov. 15, 2007.

“It was amazing how even though they had already dealt with enough in their lives, they kept a positive attitude until the business reopened,” said Steve Agee, pastor of Faith Baptist and administrator of Faith Christian Academy.

Since the Bridgeses moved to Alabama, Amira has spent time in and out of Children’s Hospital in Birmingham.

Currently the youngster is awaiting her three-year checkup in Seattle to determine if she’s cancer-free.

While dealing with the hardships, the family has received an outpouring of support from the church and the academy. Their contributions have included a blood drive and walk-a-thon, a bean supper, the provision of school lunches for the Bridges children for the fall semester and cards that filled the Children’s Hospital room where Amira has stayed during her treatments.

Without that constant flow of support, Nicki said it would have been harder to remain positive.

“They’ve been a major source of prayer, emotional and spiritual support,” she said. “They have kept our family uplifted all the time.”

Phillip Cunningham, minister of youth and education at Faith, said Amira has served as a “tremendous witness” for the other children attending the academy.

Agee echoed the thought.

“The entire family — especially Amira — has been a great witness at the church and school,” he said. “We’ve been impressed at both their spirit and attitude. That wouldn’t be possible if it weren’t for their faith in Christ.”

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