Photo: Chrissy's Alliance (Facebook)
A young girl in Utah, at only ten years old, has had to battle breast cancer. Not only has she been brave and powerful in that, but she is also taking the time to inspire others - even adults who are much older.
Chrissy became the youngest recorded person to ever be diagnosed with breast cancer at age eight. Now she is ten years old, and is fortunately in remission.
It all started when she was putting on her pajamas, like any other night, but she noticed a lump that hurt her when she touched it. She went to her mother and asked her what it was.
When her mother took her to the doctor, they were told that she should simply be put on antibiotics. However, Chrissy's dad had recently endured treatment for non-Hodgkin lymphoma, so the parents decided they wanted to insist on an ultrasound. It was fortunate that they had this foresight, because it showed that Chrissy had secretory breast carcinoma.
Of course, they were shocked. Not only because of Chrissy's young age, but because secretory breast carcinoma is extremely rare, affecting one in one million people.
Chrissy's father says that they were absolutely devastated by the news, and remembers how hard it was to decide how you tell your child that they have cancer. It is something that no parent should ever have to do.
Chrissy was motivated
While it is hard to decide how to move forward for anyone in that position, it was especially difficult for Chrissy due to her young age. However, she let her parents knew that she was prepared to do whatever it would take for her to get better. So, she had a mastectomy, and now goes in for breast scans once every three months.
Her mother comments on her current state, "so far, she's doing really well, other than having a few emotional days. She's started developing a little bit on her left side, so at some point she'll need reconstructive surgery, probably when she's 11 or 12. But Chrissy is happy and always tries to see the silver lining: She's healthy and back playing and enjoying school and her friends."
Without any knowledge of her ordeal, you would assume that she is just like any other ten year old. She shares a room with her older sister, likes to make up games with dragons at recess, and paints her fingernails pink and purple. Her teddy bear, Andy, accompanied her to all of her procedures, but now they go on scooter rides in her neighborhood.
She has an amazing outlook, and says, "life is good and far too short. I love spending time with my family and there is nothing more important to me, especially now."
Her experience was certainly scary, and not what any young girl should have to go through. However, it taught her that she can no longer stand by being shy and quiet, but that she has to speak out about what is important to her, and spread the word about her story and how others can avoid the same happening to them.
She has been part of multiple events as a speaker, and she says it is "because it's important to be aware of your body no matter what age you are. If you ever find a lump, don't wait. You should go to a doctor and have it looked at." She is optimistic that her age will grab people's attention and cause them to actually listen to the message, where they might dismiss it from others.
She is often one of the keynote speakers at these events, and sometimes even leaves the audience in tears.
Her mother Annette explains what it is like for Chrissy, "she's nervous, but it's important to her, and I'll be standing right beside her the whole time. After the challenges she's faced at such a young age, she knows there is nothing she can't do." Annette is a cervical cancer survivor herself, and could not be more proud of her daughter.
She goes on to say, "she's shy, but we tell her that when you're called to a greater purpose in life, you can't hide from it. Chrissy now realizes that this is an opportunity to take something horrible that happened to her and turn it around."
Her father also comments on his pride in how his daughter has dealt with the situation, and how she is now sharing it with others, "we're so proud of how Chrissy handled her news about having breast cancer and the strength she showed through that and all that she had to go through. A lot of people have seen that strength and have drawn on it. For her young age, Chrissy has an incredible willingness to bring about more awareness and hope to others."
He continues, "even at first, after her initial shock, Chrissy showed an overwhelmingly positive attitude and strength to overcome her situation and return to enjoying life. She truly has a spirit beyond her age, and her positive attitude and strength are radiated to those around her. She inspires me every day."
Annette says, "we'd like people to know that she's happy and still enjoys bringing beauty to the simple things in life ... Chrissy carries a glowing spirit with her wherever she goes and she's teaching others - especially women diagnosed with breast cancer - to embrace life and focus on the good. If anything, that's been her most powerful message: 'You can defeat this and you can keep living.' ... She knows that when something like this happens to you, you can either take it lying down or you can grow from it, spiritually and emotionally. She's chosen to grow from it. This entire experience has brought our family closer together."
“Keep moving forward and never give up”
Chrissy agrees, and says, "this experience has taught me to keep moving forward and never give up. Through my cancer, I learned how important family really is and that we should enjoy every second of this life. I love spending time with my family and friends and just having fun."
Now, Chrissy is a fifth-grader in Centerville, and she's doing well. She has replaced her former favorite color blue with the breast cancer shade of pink, and even ensures that she draws a tiny pink ribbon wherever her name is, whether it's on a homework assignment or a thank-you note to someone wishing her well (which she always responds to).
Now, she is receiving even more mail, due to her speaking engagements that are thoroughly altering how people are looking at their disease. For those who were feeling sorry for themselves, after listening to Chrissy, they realize that they are actually grateful that they are going through it as an adult, and not as a child. For those who feel that their lives are over because of breast cancer, they are seeing from Chrissy that life will go on if you choose to let it. Chrissy has been an inspiration to thousands, and will only continue to be a positive figure within the breast cancer community, and all of those around her.