A Cedarville-area couple has a lot to be thankful for after learning two days before Thanksgiving that their three-year-old daughter can stop chemotherapy after new tests found no cancer.
Stephanie Caraway said Tuesday Dayton Children’s Hospital gave the “no evidence of disease” diagnosis the family had been praying for their daughter Charlotte, who was first diagnosed with kidney cancer when she was 14 months old.
“Praise the Lord! So so so much to be thankful for,” Stephanie said after learning the news.
Charlotte had been undergoing treatment at Dayton Children’s Hospital for the second time after she went through a relapse following her first round of chemotherapy.
Stephanie said the outpouring of support her family has received has been “overwhelming.”
“We are incredibly thankful for the support and love that has been showed to us,” Caraway said.
Since Charlotte started undergoing treatment, family, friends, coworkers and fellow church members have have rallied around to support the Caraway family.
Charlotte’s father Matt Caraway works at General Electric in Beavercreek, where co-workers have held fundraising events for the young child. Stephanie, who is a teacher at Shawnee High School in Clark County, said her students and school have supported her during the treatments.
Supporters have created a campaign called #FierceCharlotte — which Caraway says is based off the Shakespeare quote “Though she be but little, she is fierce.”
When Charlotte was first diagnosed, she was immediately sent to Dayton Children’s Hospital.
“We obviously had the shock of our lives especially having three healthy children before her. That was the last thing we expected,” Caraway said, who has three other daughters who are 10, 8 and 5.
Charlotte had chemo and part of her kidney removed as part of treatment, and then nine months of clean scans.
But in November of 2016, the couple found out that their daughter’s cancer had relapsed, something uncommon with that type of cancer.
“The doctors were not expecting that at all,” Caraway said. “She’s had quite a little battle in her three years.”
Charlotte’s oncologist at Dayton Children’s spoke to experts at Baylor University in Texas, in Washington, D.C. and in Europe when working on a protocol for treatment after her unexpected cancer relapse.
Her mother said she feels sometimes like she got a “degree by fire” in medical education, trying to learn about her daughter’s care.
Stephanie said the couple’s Christian faith has helped them get through these times.
“My husband and I are strong in our faith. I can’t imagine trying to walk this road without that,” she said.
Cancer has been a part of most of Charlotte’s life. She was first diagnosed with cancer while still learning to talk and Caraway said it was hard to hear her start to verbalize things about her hair loss, her scar or her “tubey” (referring to her access port).
“To hear it in her words, it can be heartbreaking,” Stephanie said.
Still, Stephanie said Charlotte was tougher than she realized throughout the duration of her treatment. Charlotte is now in preschool twice a week and has been “loving it,” her mother said.
Charlotte’s excited about Christmas. A fan of Frozen, she likes ice cream and accessorizing from her bows to her boots. She loves horses and playing with her sisters
“What else do you love, Charlotte?” Stephaine asked.
Her blankie, Charlotte added.
Charlotte recently was featured in Dayton Children’s holiday giving campaign, with her picture on signs around the area.
Has Charlotte seen her photo yet on a poster? Yes, but she had more pressing concerns at the time.
“We took her to see herself on a poster and she was more concerned about Santa on the other side of the mall,” Stephanie said.