By: Marissa Pierantoni, Jason’s Friends Foundation
October 4, 2022 was the day that I met Chloe for the first and last time. As a newly employed staff member at Jason’s Friends Foundation, I had only met families when they came into the office, or this past summer at Camp Courage Wyoming. But none of these instances prepared me for this encounter.
I entered the dimmed hospital room not knowing the sorrows that lay beyond the heavy wooden doors. With a pang of heartbreak, I scanned the room and could see two loving parents, a spirited sister, a team of nurses, and the tiniest body on the hospital bed.
Conversations and pleasantries continued, but all I could hear was the deafening beep of the heart monitor. All my eyes could see was a baby connected to dozens of machines, pumping life into her petite figure. All my heart could feel was despair.
While I looked at her, the tumor in her abdomen was so large that it looked like another baby was lying beside her. I glanced up at her eyes and could see her immense pain clothed in yellow. I approached her with caution, fearing that a single breath could harm her delicate frame.
As she was trapped behind cords, wires, and tubes, her bright smile shone through the mess.
At her bed, unable to speak, all she could do was extend her tiny hand, almost like a life preserver, throwing it out to whomever might be able to help. All I could offer was a finger and she grasped it so tightly that it felt like she was trying to tell me that she was okay.
Chloe’s Cancer Journey
Chloe was born on June 25, 2021, in Gillette, Wyoming. She was a healthy baby with no concerns from mom, Katey, as they visited the doctor for a six-month wellness exam. As the pediatrician was examining Chloe’s stomach, she felt a large mass and sought further opinion from an associate. Chloe was rushed to an ultrasound where her stomach revealed a 10 cm mass.
Hours later, six-month-old Chloe was put on a life flight to Rocky Mountain Hospital for Children in Denver. After running tests, scans, and biopsies, Chloe not only received a diagnosis of Stage 4 Neuroblastoma but was also placed in the high-risk category.
In order to remove the tumor residing in Chloe’s abdomen, she was put through five cycles of chemotherapy. After the surgery removed 99% of the tumor, the treatment didn’t stop there. Per the treatment plan, Chloe at 11-months-old fought through a bone marrow transplant to eradicate any remaining tumor. Hope was restored for Chloe’s health when she and her family were sent home after a three week stay in the hospital.
Heartbreak overcame the Stevenson family as Chloe was readmitted to the hospital after developing a blood infection just a week past her first birthday. The infection required scans to be taken and unveiled a whole new set of tumors that had grown since the completion of the bone marrow transplant. The new tumors led Chloe and her medical team to explore experimental treatment options. Relapsing following a bone marrow transplant is extremely rare and had very poor outcomes, making the typical treatment plan for Stage 4 Neuroblastoma in the high-risk category no longer applicable.
Rocky Mountain Hospital for Children became the Stevenson’s second home as they stayed by Chloe’s side for 10 ½ months of treatment. Luckily, they were surrounded by an incredible hospital staff who quickly became their family and helped to ease the struggles of being away from home.
Spreading joy to all those around her and creating bonds that cancer could not break, Chloe made a lasting impact on everyone she met. Unfortunately, the new treatments were ineffective and made minimal changes in the new tumor growth. This led Katey and Chloe’s dad David to make the heart wrenching decision to stop all treatments, as they were doing more harm than good to Chloe.
On October 13, 2022, at the precious age of 15 ½ months old, Chloe took her final breaths at Rocky Mountain Hospital for Children surrounded by love and prayers, but most of all peace. She was a warrior against cancer for the majority of her life.
“Our family wants to thank Jason’s Friends for walking this cancer journey with us and supporting us entirely with your financial assistance. We can’t truly express the sincere gratitude that we have in our hearts as you continue to support us post our journey with the loss of our daughter, Chloe,” said Katey.
Chloe is remembered for her joy amid suffering and as a reminder to us all to cherish time we have with one another.
25th Annual Bowl for Jason’s Friends
Because of Jason’s Friends Foundation, families are able to be with their sick child as they fight the most difficult battle of their lives. Families, like the Stevenson’s, are grateful for the financial assistance given by Jason’s Friends over the past 25+ years. The 150 Wyoming families that are a part of the program receive financial assistance for travel, lodging, household bills, car payments and repairs, and more as their child endures cancer or a brain or spinal cord tumor.
In order to provide this assistance, Jason’s Friends need supporters like you. Each year, the foundation hosts its one and only fundraiser called Bowl for Jason’s Friends. Last year, the event raised over $350,000 but in comparison, the foundation has given back over $750,000 to the Wyoming families in its program in 2022.
Bowl for Jason’s Friends is celebrating its 25th year thanks to a lot of hard work and dedicated volunteers who continue to show up year after year.
The event will be held on Saturday, March 4 at El Mark-O Lanes in Casper. If you are interested in participating, gather a team of five (friends, teammates, co-workers, or family) and register online at jasonsfriends.org or contact the Jason’s Friends office at 235-3421 for a time slot to bowl. Each team member must raise at least, but not limited to, $100 and bring their donations to the event. Bowlers are eligible to receive a free t-shirt for collecting at least $100. Help Jason’s Friends meet its fundraising goals and the financial needs of its families.
Jason’s Friends Foundation is excited to announce that they will be hosting a smaller version of Bowl for Jason’s Friends in Gillette on Saturday, March 4 from 1:30pm – 5:30pm at Camelanes Bowling Center. For more information and to sign up, contact the Jason’s Friends office at 307- 235-3421 or visit jasonsfriends.org.
|SPONSORED IN-KIND BY JASON’S FRIENDS FOUNDATION
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