All six-year old Chloe Spradlin wanted was to stay with her family, in her home, safe in her own bed. But the blood cancer attacking her body would not allow it.
“I did not want to take her back to the hospital,” said Chloe’s dad Chris Spradlin. “We knew we had to. Carrying her out to the car in my arms was the worst thing ever.”
In 2016 Chloe was diagnosed with stage four Burkitt’s leukemia, an aggressive form of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Between multiple courses of chemotherapy, she was supposed to get a few precious days at home. But another infection meant rushing back to the hospital.
Today Chloe is an Honored Hero of the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society 2019 Dayton Light The Night Walk. She is free of cancer and will jubilantly lead the walk Sept. 26 at Kettering’s Fraze Pavilion. The mile-long victory lap through the autumn evening will be brief compared to the long journey of a cancer survivor.
Chloe, her parents Chris and Christy and younger brother Caden moved to Troy in the summer of 2016 when Chris was named provost of Edison State Community College. By Thanksgiving she was in a fight for her life.
“She was very tired, sleepy, pale, didn’t have much energy,” said Chris. “As much as parents worry for the worst, I don’t think we ever thought it was something terrible. She had a fever on Thanksgiving. They did a blood test. They told us to go to Dayton Children’s Hospital.”
“It was all over her body, stage four,” said Chris. “Burkitt’s is one of the fastest growing cancers. “Our first meal in the hospital was Thanksgiving dinner. She started chemotherapy that Sunday. She spent 17 straight days in the hospital.”
Chris and Christy remember “a host of things wrong with Chloe’s body,” including multiple infections, anemia, and sores. She wouldn’t eat or drink.
“On the night of Dec. 14, 2016 Chloe suffered a seizure and stopped breathing,” said Chris. They were moved to a room across the hall where “We repeatedly prayed for God to save our child’s life.” She spent the next five days in ICU.
Over the next five months Chloe underwent an intensive course of chemotherapy. “She was in the hospital almost all the time,” said Chris. “We would then bring her home and do everything we could to protect her from infection but with essentially zero white blood cells in her system she would inevitably get sick and end up back in the hospital.”
Two years later, Chloe says she remembers “how tough it was.” The scariest part was the lumbar punctures for intrathecal chemotherapy to the spinal cord. “She had 10 of those in five months,” said Chris.
A comfort during those hard times was her “therapy pig” named “Oliver.” When asked who helped her, she points to her mom. A great source of encouragement was another little girl, just like her.
“I had a friend in the hospital named Desi and she had bone cancer,” said Chloe. “We liked to come over to each other’s rooms, play games and just do stuff.”
“Feb. 21, 2017 – I remember that date,” said Chris. “It was the first time we got a blood test that showed no cancer.” She finished treatment April 1, 2017 and remains cancer free.
“The doctors, nurses and staff at Dayton Children’s Hospital were simply amazing. They not only save our daughter’s life, they saved our whole family… They will always be special to us.”
“We still shudder at the memory of those dark, dark days of 2016,” said Chris, when it was difficult to imagine now eight-year old Chloe as an ambassador of hope for Light The Night and all blood cancer patients.
“Chloe being an Honored Hero has been a blessing, said Chloe’s mom Christy Spradlin. “At times it’s hard to relive the story. But with all the great events she’s been able to experience life after cancer.”
Chloe has embraced her role, walking the runway in an LLS fashion show and throwing out the first pitch at the Aug. 22 Dayton Dragons game. Here’s how she described her job as Honored Hero:
“When people look at me, they think, ‘Wow. This girl has gone through a lot. I think I’m going to raise some money for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.’”