ALL NEWS

14-year-old beat stage 4 cancer, just in time to make it home for Christmas

Dec 15, 2019, 10:04 AM
Chloe Cress was diagnosed with alveolar rhabdomyosarcoma in June 2018. She will be home for Christm...
Chloe Cress was diagnosed with alveolar rhabdomyosarcoma in June 2018. She will be home for Christmas this year. (Courtesy Shawn Cress)
(Courtesy Shawn Cress)

TENNESSEE CNN) — It started out as a limp.

At the time, father Shawn Cress thought daughter Chloe, then 12 years old, just needed some physical therapy. That was June 2018.

But the limp turned into a fever, which led to lab tests at the doctor’s office that “didn’t look good,” Shawn recalls. And by then, Chloe was having back pain.

All this for the Kingsport, Tennessee family turned into a referral to Niswonger Children’s Hospital in Johnson City, about 34 miles away, where doctors gave Chloe a CT scan. That’s how they found the mass — a giant tumor near Chloe’s heart that had spread down to her esophagus and into some of her vertebrae, causing the back pain.

It was stage 4 cancer — alveolar rhabdomyosarcoma, which is cancer in the skeletal muscles, according to the American Cancer Society. Not even 12 hours after the results came back, Chloe was flown to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis, and the family has been there ever since.

Now, thankfully, that is changing. Chloe is going home for the first time in 18 months, just in time for Christmas.

Moving to St. Jude

Back in June 2018, life was quickly turned upside down.

Shawn told CNN that initially upon hearing the news “you just break down.”

They had known it was bad, he said, but they didn’t expect it to be that bad.

“It just scares the life out of you,” he said. “You just think, ‘I’m gonna lose my kid.’ And it’s really helpless because there’s nothing you can do.”

Chloe, now 14, said she was mainly worried at first.

“I was worried about something happening to the whole family because of me,” she told CNN. “I mean like money problems, and all sorts of things like that. Unable to have the same house that I grew up in, having my dogs, having everything I love that isn’t allowed to be at St. Jude.”

Days that had been filled with school and work were replaced with doctors’ appointments — with the family sometimes spending up to 14 hours in a day at the hospital.

Chloe especially missed her two dogs, Buu and Rollie, she said. Getting to see her dogs every month was consistently the most uplifting part.

“They’re my emotional link,” she said.

It doesn’t help that the family is based in Kingsport, 8 hours from St. Jude in Memphis, on the other side of Tennessee. So they’ve had to basically move cities, Shawn said.

On Tuesday, the doctors told the family the good news: The cancer was in remission. Though they’ll have to return for follow-up appointments every three months, the family can finally head home on December 21.

Home for Christmas

Last Christmas, the family was able to return home for a few days, but they had to drive back to St. Jude on Christmas day for appointments on December 26, 2018.

“This one is more exciting because it’s for good,” Shawn said.

But after 18 months, he said going home feels “surreal.” There were days when they didn’t know this day would come.

Chloe said she feels relieved about finally going home. She won’t be able to return to school right away, and will probably be bedridden at least for the rest of the school year.

But that doesn’t matter. She says she looks forward to finally spending some quality time with her dogs — and maybe adopting another one, too.

We want to hear from you.

Have a story idea or tip? Send it to the KSL NewsRadio team here.

Today’s Top Stories

All News

Sailors assigned to Explosive Ordnance Disposal Group 2 recover debris from a high-altitude surveil...
Katie Bo Lillis, Jeremy Herb, Josh Campbell, Zachary Cohen, Kylie Atwood and Natasha Bertrand, CNN

Spy balloon part of a broader Chinese military surveillance operation, US intel sources say

The Chinese spy balloon, that was shot down off the coast of South Carolina over the weekend, was part of a Chinese military surveillance program, according to American officials.
7 hours ago
A selfie taken by Gabby Petito weeks before her death shows she had facial injuries on the day she ...
Andi Babineau and Paradise Afshar, CNN

Selfie taken by Gabby Petito shows she had a facial injury on the day she was interviewed by Moab police over domestic disturbance call, lawyer says

Facial injuries are shown on the face of Gabby Petito in a selfie she took weeks before her death.
7 hours ago
Arkansas Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders, pictured here in Orlando in November of 2022, will deliver th...
Clare Foran, CNN

Sarah Huckabee Sanders draws generational contrast with Biden in GOP rebuttal

 (CNN) — Arkansas Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders gave a combative speech Tuesday evening in response to President Joe Biden’s State of the Union address, seeking to draw a generational contrast with Biden as she delivered a series of blistering criticisms of the president. “At 40, I’m the youngest governor in the country. At 80, he’s […]
7 hours ago
Utah's deregulating the workforce is something the rest of the nation could learn from. It's a topi...
Mark Jones

What America could learn from Utah’s deregulating workforce

SALT LAKE CITY — A tight labor market continues to hurt the rest of the nation. Utah, on the other hand, is deregulating its workforce by making some key changes to help build its economy and fill job openings. It’s something the rest of America could learn from.  This is accomplished by loosening the guidelines […]
1 day ago
A majority of Americans say he hasn't accomplished much and many Democrats aren't thrilled at the p...
Kevin Liptak, CNN

Takeaways from Biden’s State of the Union address

A recap of President Biden's second State of the Union address on Tuesday, Feb. 7, 2023.
1 day ago
A man was partially amputated while harvesting crops on monastery land Tuesday. At this time, it is...
Devin Oldroyd

Man’s arm partially amputated by farm equipment Tuesday afternoon

A man was partially amputated while harvesting crops on monastery land Tuesday. At this time, it is not clear if paramedics could save the limb.
1 day ago

Sponsored Articles

Skier being towed by a rider on a horse. Skijoring....
Bear Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau

Looking for a New Winter Activity? Try Skijoring in Bear Lake

This article about skijoring is sponsored by the Bear Lake Convention & Visitors Bureau. Participate in Skijoring the Bear on February 20th, 2023.  What is skijoring? Skijoring is when someone on skis is pulled by a horse, dog, animal, or motor vehicle. The driver leads the skiers through an obstacle course over jumps, hoops, and […]
Banner with Cervical Cancer Awareness Realistic Ribbon...
Intermountain Health

Five Common Causes of Cervical Cancer – and What You Can Do to Lower Your Risk

January is National Cervical Cancer Awareness month and cancer experts at Intermountain Health are working to educate women about cervical cancer, the tests that can warn women about potential cancer, and the importance of vaccination.
Kid holding a cisco fish at winterfest...
Bear Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau

Get Ready for Fun at the 2023 Bear Lake Monster Winterfest

The Bear Lake Monster Winterfest is an annual weekend event jam-packed full of fun activities the whole family can enjoy. This year the event will be held from January 27-29 at the Utah Bear Lake State Park Marina and Sunrise Resort and Event Center in Garden City, Utah. 
happy friends with sparklers at christmas dinner...
Macey's

15 Easy Christmas Dinner Ideas

We’ve scoured the web for you and narrowed down a few of our favorite Christmas dinner ideas to make your planning easy. Choose from the dishes we’ve highlighted to plan your meal or start brainstorming your own meal plan a couple of weeks before to make sure you have time to shop and prepare.
Spicy Homemade Loaded Taters Tots...
Macey's

5 Game Day Snacks for the Whole Family (with recipes!)

Try these game day snacks to make watching football at home with your family feel like a special occasion. 
Happy joyful smiling casual satisfied woman learning and communicates in sign language online using...
Sorenson

The Best Tools for Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing Workplace Success

Here are some of the best resources to make your workplace work better for Deaf and hard-of-hearing employees.
14-year-old beat stage 4 cancer, just in time to make it home for Christmas