Chemotherapy knocked her disease into remission, and Sara grew up like a normal kid -- the only girl, adored by two brothers, and life was good again -- until...
"I was in the ninth grade. I started having pain again. I'd been in remission for six years. So when it came back, me and my family were devastated," says Sara McCunniff.
"Your heart just sank. No, not again! Especially being a teenager! She finally had long hair," says Sara's mother, Lori.
But Sara's real diagnosis comes with good and bad news, first the good.
"It's recurrent and a nuisance, but it recurs only on the bone and it really doesn't spread, and that's why it's not cancer," says Dr. John Iacuone.
And the bad news?
"Oh, it's very, very painful," says Dr. Iacuone.
The disease is called Langerhans Cell Histiocytosis. That means, in simple terms, that Sara has what feels like Pac Man chomping at her bone.
"Yes, it eats away. If you did an x-ray, it's like swiss cheese," says Dr. Iacuone.
"It's like a sharp, stabbing pain in my bone. Like if you had a bruise on your bone and someone was just pounding at it," says Sara.
But if you kill the Pac Man, the bone regenerates itself. So this time, since the disease returned only in the chest bone, Sara opted for radiation treatment at Southwest Cancer Center, and that's when Lori and Tom jumped on the CMN bandwagon to share their experience.
"UMC was wonderful with this last radiation treatment," says Lori.
"They had five or six specialists talk to us in a class," says Sara's dad, Tom.
"You're not a number, you're a person. They know you by name. They knew me by name," says Sara.
So now, after this last treatment, life seems back to normal for Sara, with 10 of her best friends meeting every Friday for lunch at Chinese Kitchen, mostly to plan where to meet that night.
"We're going to get chips and hot sauce at Abuelo's tonight," says Sara.
For a 16 year-old, familiar faces and fun places are good medicine.
"I don't know what I'd do if I had to go to Dallas or Houston. It's meant a lot to me to stay in Lubbock," she says.