Nanaimo’s Chloe Brown is a spunky first grade student with a wide smile.
She pauses long enough for a photo in her fluorescent orange skirt and striped t-shirt before she starts wriggling around on her mom’s lap, asking about a television show and flicking at her older brother’s chin.
But for her shaved head, no one may have guessed her body has been in a fight against cancer.
Chloe, 6, has been getting chemotherapy at the B.C. Children’s Hospital since she was diagnosed in March with Wilms tumour, a childhood kidney cancer.
This past Saturday, with September being childhood cancer awareness month, her family threw a garden party in recognition of what Chloe has been through and to raise money for the B.C. Children’s Hospital oncology department. Browns Social House donated the food to the event and provided wait staff and chefs.
They collected about $12,000 in what Chloe’s mother, Cora Brown, hopes will become an annual event.
“I just wanted to give back and give money back to this department so they can spend it in a way to help these families because I know there’s going to be more families coming down the road,” said Brown, who says the department is a great team and very deserving.
She also wants to spread awareness, putting up a poster at the event with the names of kids she knows that are fighting cancer, who have survived or are angels.
“You just never think it’s going to happen and then when it did happen, as brutal and awful as it is, you just realize like there’s a lot of families that this actually affects…” she said. “It’s just getting awareness out there that there is childhood cancer even though it is still rare.”
Chloe was born without a properly functioning kidney and after surgery at 10 months old, she’s had regular ultrasounds. Last spring, an ultrasound showed what looked to be a tumour and over spring break, the family received the cancer diagnosis.
“I felt like the world just stopped. You panic. You literally stop breathing,” Brown said.
Chloe had surgery to remove her kidney the following month and started chemotherapy.
As far as the emotional part, Chloe has been really good, said Brown, who thinks it’s because of her daughter’s personality. Even when her head was shaved, Chloe was “no hair, don’t care,” Brown said.
“She’s a feisty little firecracker, so she’s gotten herself through this and myself and my husband and we have a good team of friends and family that surround us. It’s still hard and it’s not easy, but it makes it easier.”
If all goes well, Chloe will have her last chemotherapy treatment this November.
What does Chloe think about that?
“Really excited,” she said, smiling.