I am so excited to be introducing you to this amazing girl! Chanelle and me were selected by Beauty Revived to participate in the ” 50 Most Beautiful Children” campaign. I did a photoshoot for Chanelle and she will be featured in thier magazine and on thier blog. Read all about Chanelle in her story written by Tina Ekker:
From the instant Chanelle was brought into this world her family knew she was sent to them for a reason. This vibrant, happy, and extremely healthy child brought joy to everyone she came into contact with. By age two she was making full sentences and knew what she wanted; she was very smart and very active in everything that she did. She loved to play sports, dance, go camping and fishing, golf with her grandpa and most of all just being outside running around.
Chanelle, as a young child was a very strong little girl who rarely even had a cold. The abilities she had were amazing; her accomplishments and milestones were always well ahead of the age that most children were expected to achieve them.
As life moved forward, Chanelle was blessed with a baby sister, the tiny little one soon became the center of her world. She took on the role as big sister and she embraced every aspect of it. The two became inseparable; Chanelle always said that her sister was brought into her life for a reason. Everyone agreed with her; telling her that she would always have a friend. At that time no one could have imagined the important role her younger sibling would play in saving her life in just a few years down the road.
Chanelle lives in a home that is full of love and happiness; each day brings a new joy or achievement that is celebrated by the entire family. They feel as though they have the perfect life and nothing can break the bond of love that they share for one another.
Chanelle began having pains, as most children do; typically known as growing pains. This is a condition that all children experience, and with a lot of love and a little time eventually they will subside on their own, and they did. When she was eight, she began complaining that her left leg hurt; it was just in the one leg and her mother knew that wasn’t typical of growing pains and usually affects both legs at the same time. At first it was thought that with her high level of activity she may have just pulled a muscle.
On this one particular weekend, Chanelle had gone out of town. When she returned home she was excited to be back at home with her mother, Step-Father and her baby sister; she loves them so much and missed them while she was away. At this point she wasn’t really complaining about her leg; she seemed to be doing better. She was playing with her baby sister on the floor when the little one tried crawling over her legs and lost her balance. She fell onto Chenelle’s left leg; her small elbow impacted just above her knee with all her weight.
The pain was intense and Chanelle screamed; it was the most horrific noise her mother had ever heard; the family raced to the room where the two girls were playing. When they walked through the door they found Chanelle crying uncontrollably; she was in excruciating pain. A huge lump was present on her leg; the swelling covered a large area the size of her mother’s hand, not only in width, but in length as well.
Her mother scheduled what they thought was a routine doctor’s appointment with their pediatrician; they assumed they would go to the examination and the diagnosis would be a sprain or a pulled muscle and they were prepared to be told that a little rest and Chanelle would be as good as new.
The doctor did an examination and ordered an X-Ray; the family believed that all was going to turn out as a simple diagnosis, and that the pain and swelling would subside within a few days.
Nothing could have prepared Chanelle or her mother for what the test would reveal later that same evening. They were taken back into the doctor’s office and were told that Chanelle had a tumor in the bone and it was cancer. Those words echoed in their heads; they felt as though a ton of bricks had just been dumped on them. Being able to even perform the simple task of breathing was difficult; this all seemed like a bad dream and any moment they would wake up and everything would be okay.
But it wasn’t; Chanelle was diagnosed with a bone cancer known as Osteosercoma ;a rare type of bone cancer that affected her femur and had moved into her muscle. They had to move quickly and begin treatment right away. The team of doctors designed a plan that would aggressively fight the affected area. Every detail of what was about to happen was explained to the family. Chanelle was present for all the conversations; her mother believed that would be the best way for her to understand what was going to happen to her.
She was immediately sent to Primary Children’s Hospital where she endured multiple scans and a portacath was placed in her chest to administer chemotherapy; a treatment that would continue for several weeks. She had to be scared, but this little girl showed no fear; the bravery she expelled radiated to everyone she came in contact with. Her mother explained this is what needs to happen and Chanelle met the challenge head on.
Even through the fevers, nauseous, sick feeling, pain, tears and the complications she experienced, Chanelle remained focused and kept her sights on the goal of being well again. Her contagious smile was what everyone saw.
Chanelle was going to lose her long beautiful hair due to the treatment of the Chemo. Her mother who is a strong woman, has always had long hair herself, stood by her little girls side and they both had their hair cut short when the time came. They did it in stages, so it wouldn’t be such a shock all at once. Her mother made it fun; a girls night with her mother, grandmother, aunt and cousins; they colored their hair and even added some pink to it, something they would have never done under different circumstances.
Chanelle’s best friend, who is also her cousin and the same age, wanted to show her love and support for what she was going through. She joined in the affair and had her long gorgeous hair cut extremely short in Chanelle’s honor.
Eventually she lost all of her hair; even that didn’t break this amazing young girl; she embraced being without hair and participated in a photo session that proved just how beautiful this child is, both inside and out.
After the completion 8 rounds of chemotherapy, surgery was scheduled. A procedure known as “rotationplasty” would be performed on June 23. What this means in a little bit more understandable form, Chanelle’s leg would be amputated and the healthy part; the bottom part of her leg from the knee down would be attached just below her hip providing a makeshift femur that eventually a prosthetic leg would be attached to. Thus giving her a joint where her prosthetic leg would be attached offering her normal use of her leg.
The days went by at an accelerated rate and the day of surgery was here. Chanelle, her parents and her grandmother sat in the prep room waiting for the doctor to come and get their precious little girl to take her back to have the procedure done. As the family fought back the tears; Chanelle remained strong and comforted her loved ones with her beautiful smile and amazing personality.
The surgeon appeared announcing it was time; hugs and kisses were shared amongst Chanelle and her family. Chanelle’s mother embraced her little girl and held her tightly against her chest; she whispered, “Its okay to be scared and its okay to cry.” They held each other for a brief moment; they both said “I love you.” They finally parted and Chanelle turned to walk away and said, “See you after my nap” a single tear escaped her eye and rolled down one side of her cheek as she bravely walked away with the doctor. The family waited until she got out of sight and they broke down and cried like babies; they knew that was the last time they would see that beautiful little girl walk on her two own natural legs.
The minutes ticked by as slow as a snail moving as the family anxiously awaited the completion of the procedure. Chanelle’s mother was an utter wreck; she knew she could accept the loss of her daughter’s leg to get rid of the cancer. But her thoughts were on her child; she wondered about what this would do to her emotional state, she worried if she could accept it mentally and if the physical aspects of this would be too much for her little girl to tolerate. So many questions encircled her mind, questions that would only be answered in time.
After twelve long hours, they were finally notified that Chanelle was in recovery; the doctor explained what he had done and stated that everything went very well. He indicated she would be on a lot of pain medications, so she wasn’t expected to be fully coherent for about 3 days.
Within about forty five minutes Chanelle was wide awake in recovery talking to the nurses and asking the surgeon if she could please have a drink of water. She called for her mother in her sweet chipper little voice as her mother was waiting to see her. The fact that she was awake and talking stunned her mother; she ran over to her daughter in amazement. she was so cute and her adorable attitude was shinning through as she was coming out of the anesthesia.
Chanelle, her mother and her grandmother decided they would check out her leg together. Three generations of women, all with different views on what they were about to see sat together as her mother slowly pulled the blanket down exposing her leg. As Chanelle’s mother nervously looked at her daughter , waiting for a reaction; Chanelle smiled, “look at my little nemo leg” she said. Her positive outlook on what they saw gave a renewed position to her family that this was going to be okay.
From the moment we have our children we teach them things they will need to know to prepare them for being an adult; this eight year old has become the teacher, so many have learned from her will to fight and triumph over this condition, she remains optimistic no matter what life throws at her. What an inspiration she has become to so many young and old.
The very next day after surgery this tough girl was up learning how to use her walker; she took several little hops; the pain had to be excruciating where just less than twenty four hours earlier she had her leg fully amputated and reattached with plates and screws. She grit her teeth and only exhibited her desire and drive to overcome her situation.
After only a few days in the hospital she was released to go home with her family. Once she was home, family and friends came to see her; displaying nothing but confidence about her situation and openly showed anyone her little leg. She accepts her condition and is confident she’ll conquer any obstacles life presents her with. Her enthusiasm and aspiration to get past this is what keeps her loved ones going.
Chanelle is back in chemotherapy and will have much treatment over the next few months; the doctors explained they need to eradicate any cancer cell floaters that may be present and aren’t showing up on the scans. Eventually she will receive her prosthetic leg and with the help of physical therapy she will master the art of using her new leg.
With all that this young girl has been through and what she has to defeat in the many months to come, she remains positive about her prognosis; she is the inspiration that keeps her family optimistic about the long road she has ahead of her. Even though many tears have been shed by this family; they know with the strength Chanelle possess and the enthusiasm to defeat this illness they will prevail over this challenge that they have been given.
Her contagious smile, hopeful attitude and sweet spirit has captured the hearts of thousands of people. So many follow her story, cheering with her at each triumph and weeping for her with any setbacks she may endure. This courageous and precious little angel has brought so many people together, some are family, others are friends and many are strangers that never even had the pleasure of meeting her. They stand behind her in her battle; admiring her courage and determination to beat this terrible disease known as cancer. They send their love, support and prayers daily that she will win “Chanelle’s Fight.”
Someone asked Chanelle, “What makes you so strong?” Her reply was, “I don’t want to go anywhere; I love my family and they all love me, they stand behind me in this fight with everything that they have and their support and strength is what will get me through.” Chenelle’s mother said, “I believe my little girls attitude to prevail, her beautiful smiles, the determination she displays, and the amazing spirit that she possess is what has and will continue to get us through this situation. Without that winning combination, the circumstances surrounding this cancer could have been presented with a more trying outcome