“‘I’m sorry but Cheyenne has cancer.’
Our second daughter Cheyenne was born July 17th, 2016. She was 7lbs 7oz and to our and the doctors’ knowledge, she was perfectly healthy. A few weeks after her birth I noticed that her stomach seemed very bloated, especially on one side. I asked family members and a few nurse friends to take a look and no one was concerned. They all thought it was simple baby bloating.
I went to take Cheyenne for her 2-month shots and after they administered them, I pointed out her stomach to the pediatrician.
‘Her stomach doesn’t feel right. It feels too bloated,’ I explained.
Her pediatrician didn’t think anything looked wrong with her stomach, but she did think something ‘felt’ wrong.
‘Hmm. It does feel hard. I want you to go straight to the local hospital to have scans,’ she told me.
I started to get scared. I called my husband at work and he left to meet me there. She had the scan and they sent us back to the pediatrician for the results. By then we had accumulated a lot of our family members in the waiting room at the pediatrician’s office. She called me and my husband to come into one of the rooms.
‘There is a mass in Cheyenne’s stomach,’ she said. ‘I’m ordering you straight to the Children’s Hospital in Birmingham, Alabama.’
This hospital was 2 and a half hours away from us. I remember feeling dizzy.
‘Please sit down. There is a chair right here for you to compose yourself.’
We had to go out and face all of our family members and relay everything we had just heard. Everyone gathered at my house and I just cried. I couldn’t decide what to tell our 7-year-old Cambryn.
‘Don’t worry, we’re just going to get Cheyenne checked out,’ we finally told her.
It was a horrible waiting game, waiting for the next morning to come. On the way to Birmingham, my husband Cody said, ‘Tiffany, I googled mass in a 2-month-old stomach and Neuroblastoma cancer popped up.’ I said, ‘CODY! Why in the world would you say that? She is going to be just fine. Maybe it’s something benign or not even anything to worry about.’
We got to the hospital and they took urine and blood from Cheyenne to get some fast results. My mind wouldn’t even let me comprehend that we were in the cancer clinic, I seriously blocked it out. I convinced myself everything would just be perfect. One of the oncologists at the hospital called me and Cody in the waiting room. She asked us a lot of questions about our health, but then asked one thing that stopped us in our tracks.
‘Have you both or anyone in your families had cancer before?’
I remember looking right at my husband, and him looking at me. In that moment we both knew what she was about to say. She had tears in her eyes.
‘I’m so sorry, but Cheyenne has cancer.’
Cody immediately broke down and I did too, but I was also trying to figure it all out in my head. I just started asking her questions. ‘What do we do now?’ ‘What are the next steps?’ ‘Is it something I ate or did? How could she have cancer?’ ‘She’s just a baby, what kind of cancer?’ ‘Are you sure it’s not benign?’ She then ripped the band aid off a little further.
‘Cheyenne is not a low risk patient, we can’t remove this tumor. She needs to be admitted today,’ she said.
Cheyenne got admitted that day and Cody and I were allowed to stay there at the hospital with her. I basically had to turn over our older daughter to our families.
‘Please get her to school, help her with homework and just take care of our other baby for us,’ I pleaded with them.
The doctors scheduled Cheyenne for surgery to have a biopsy of the tumor to determine the type of cancer, a bone marrow scraping, and inserting her central line port. The confirmed that her type of cancer is Neuroblastoma. She was Intermediate risk, and she needed to start chemo. We thought once the surgery was over we could hold Cheyenne or stroll her around the hospital but they had to keep her in the baby bed. We could not move her or hold her and she had to have a feeding tube for a few days. That’s the exact moment I broke down. I thought, ‘Why God? Why my baby? Why not me? I need her and I don’t even know who she is going to be yet, I want to know her.’
Cody and one of my nurses Casey Rae had to help me through this.
‘Get in the baby bed beside her. Curl up with your baby girl,’ Casey Rae told me.
When I did, it calmed not only me, but it calmed Cheyenne down too. We needed each other. Cheyenne went through 2 sets of chemo, 2 blood transfusions and all of her beautiful dark brown hair fell out. We got sent home and she and I didn’t leave the house for 3 months. We packed our bags for a third round of chemo because the doctors said they didn’t think she would have but anything but a 40% tumor reduction, but we took her to church where a room full of people prayed over her – and guess what? Her tumor shrank by 82%! I witnessed the work of God that day.
Cheyenne is now 3 years old and she is in daycare and thinks she is a cheerleader. She loves us and her sister and she brings joy to everyone around her. She is not considered cancer free YET, but we know this day will come.
Cheyenne’s cancer diagnosis has taught us to appreciate the small things in life, and living life to the fullest with my family. You’re never guaranteed another day.
She is our little miracle, our ray of sunshine, an absolute inspiration.”
This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Tiffany Still of Alabama. Do you have a similar experience? We’d like to hear your important journey. Submit your own story here. Be sure to subscribe to our free email newsletter for our best stories, and YouTube for our best videos.
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