Community rallies around teen with brain cancer

ATLANTA - On a church soccer field outside Atlanta, hundreds of people - calling themselves Chip's Nation - rally around 14-year-old Chip Madren and his family. Last August, Chip was suddenly in crisis, battling aggressive stage-four brain cancer.

Chip's parents Lea and Ken were devastated. "It's all you can do to stand," Ken said. "We fell down in the street." "Screaming, yelling," Lea added.

Learn more about Chip's Nation

Right away, Chip had two brain surgeries. But the homecoming staged by Chip's Nation stunned his family. So many people wanted to help. Not just close friends - complete strangers.

Volunteers now do it all around the Madren house. They cook all the family's meals, do the laundry, the shopping and the cleaning - everything - every day.

Neighbors Jen Martel and Sarah Alverez watched Chip's Nation grow and grow. Within days, there was a calendar for meals. Volunteers line up to sign up on the family's website. There are no open slots through the end of May.

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"We're doing what we'd hope someone would do for us in that position," Martel said.

All of this support leaves Chip's family with only one focus: Chip's recovery. They're optimistic he'll get better. But his rehabilitation - like relearning how to walk and talk - will take time.

"I miss him," his mom Lea said. "He hasn't spoken in eight months."

Learn more about brain cancer

But Chip knows all about Chip's Nation. At a recent campout, $12,000 was raised. Other than hospital visits, the campout was Chip's first outing in eight months.

Stand Up to Cancer

He saw what his family already sensed. His nation - Chip's Nation - has become a movement.

"This mesh has just woven more and more closely with every person we meet," Ken said. "It's a terrible disease, but communities can really impact diseases like this. That's the story. That's Chip's Nation."

  • Mark Strassmann

    Mark Strassmann was named CBS News Transportation correspondent in August 2011. He has been a CBS News correspondent since January 2001, and is based in the Atlanta bureau.

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