“Thank God my daughter has beat cancer. It’s just crazy. It’s been so long, and you lose hope along the way, but it’s finally over. It’s surreal," said Chloe's dad, Shawn.
Chloe Cress may only be 12, but she's experienced more pain than some of us could even imagine. She was supposed to be graduating from middle school last year, but life had other plans for her. On 5th June 2018, the little girl who was supposed to be going to school at Innovation Academy in Sullivan County, Tennessee, started to experience back pain and her father, Shawn Cress, said she started limping. They took her to the hospital, and they were shocked to find that there was a mass in her chest. For a second opinion, she was flown from Niswonger Children's Hospital to St. Jude Children's Research Hospital in Memphis.
There, she was diagnosed with Alveolar Rhabdomyosarcoma, a rare, aggressive form of cancer. “In the beginning, you just hear stage 4 and think 'Oh my God, my daughter has stage 4 cancer,'" Shawn said. Since she was diagnosed 18 months ago, the Cress family has lived at St. Jude where Chloe has undergone radiation and multiple rounds of chemotherapy. Shawn added that the radiation caused complications in her esophagus, leading to eight separate procedures to correct the issue.
Shawn added that Chloe was quite scared in the beginning, as any child her age would be. However, when they arrived at St. Jude, Shawn said that it seemed like Chloe knew everything was going to be alright. They had to make a few adjustments to their lifestyle and it hasn't been easy, but Shawn says he's just happy that his baby girl gets to come home for the holidays.
On December 21, after multiple ICU visits and intensive cancer treatment that went on over a course of 18 months, Chloe will get to spend her first Christmas at home since being diagnosed with cancer. Like a Christmas miracle, Shawn says Chloe is now cancer-free! “Thank God my daughter has beat cancer. It’s just crazy. It’s been so long, and you lose hope along the way, but it’s finally over. It’s surreal. You just can’t describe how happy you are. You kind of just keep going through the treatment and wonder when we’re gonna get there.”
The first thing Chloe wants to do after getting home is to spend some quality time with her dogs and her family. Chloe hasn't had the chance to spend some time with her dogs, one of which was just a puppy when she was first diagnosed. It sure would have grown up by now. Shawn also added that the support they received from the community is what kept them afloat. “It’s crazy how much love and support you can receive," Shawn said.
He adds that the journey so far has been difficult, but he has some advice that he hopes will help others who are going through a similar situation: "Always have hope because when it seems like everything’s at it’s worse, God can make miracles happen." A woman named Sarah Beth started a GoFundMe page for Chloe so that people could donate and help her have a very Merry Christmas. If you wish to donate, click here, and help Chloe have a wonderful holiday with her family and her pets.