During Childhood Cancer Awareness Month, kids like Chloe remind us why we strive to support research, treatment, prevention and cure.
Nine-year-old Chloe loves so many things.
She loves the outdoors.
She loves animals.
She is crazy in love with playing softball.
A Tampa Bay Rays fan, Chloe follows her team closely. This season, she has especially loved watching her favorite player, outfielder Brett Phillips, beloved for his “airplane” maneuvers on the field. After slamming a winning hit, Phillips is known to thrust his arms out as if he is flying as he navigates around the bases in joyful celebration.
“I do that, too!” Chloe says.
Lately, there has been less room for baseball and all of the things Chloe loves.
She has been busy fighting cancer—for a second time.
Chloe was first diagnosed as a toddler back in 2015 with a type of lung cancer called pleuropulmonary blastoma. A caring and expert team of oncologists and surgeons at Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital guided Chloe through intensive treatments which included surgery, chemotherapy and radiation, all to successfully “kick cancer’s butt!” – as Chloe likes to say.
But in March, after five years of being cancer free, Chloe’s care team would detect a different kind of cancer: this time, cancer of the thyroid.
“When I heard,” Chloe says, “first I got goosebumps. Then I got scared.”
Chloe has a genetic mutation (DICER1 gene) which increases her risk of certain types of cancer. But despite the difficult news, there is more hope than ever for children like Chloe.
Thanks to advances in genetic and cancer research and to families who have chosen to participate over the years, medical experts are now more often able to predict what cancers these children are vulnerable to, and at what age.
That’s why Chloe underwent a screening ultrasound of her thyroid when she did, which led to her diagnosis.
Chloe was referred to Jose Canas, MD, an endocrinologist with the Endocrinology and Diabetes Specialty Clinic at Johns Hopkins All Children’s.
While oncologists treat most types of cancer, endocrinologists treat thyroid cancer.
“We are highly specialized here,” Canas says. “And we communicate with our oncologists, our pathologists, our radiologists and our surgeons to provide our expertise in the most holistic way.”
Canas and the broader care team have been guiding Chloe through a treatment plan, which has included surgery to remove her thyroid and radiation therapy to kill any remaining potentially cancerous cells.
“Her surgery went fantastic,” says Nicole Chandler, MD, chief of Johns Hopkins All Children’s Division of Pediatric Surgery. “She is an amazing trooper.”
Chloe’s mom describes the confidence she has with Johns Hopkins All Children’s as her “home-field advantage,” expert care from clinical staff who know and love Chloe and treat her like family.
“It’s a comfort knowing she is in the very best hands,” Jacquie says. “I trust all of them. I know they’re in it to win it for her as much as I am.”
After she recovered from surgery, Chloe powered through the radiation therapy like a champ, even through the temporary isolation and restrictive diet that came with it.
Slowly, she is regaining her strength as she adjusts to new medication and a new normal.
This amazing little girl is staying positive.
For now, she keeps victory in her mind’s eye. She is on the ball field, thrusting her arms out in joyful celebration as she rounds the bases and slides safely into “home.” Another winning run in the battle against childhood cancer.