CHLOE Ferris is just like any other five-year-old girl – she loves to sing, dance and whizz along on her scooter.
She wants to be a ballerina when she grows up.
But at the moment, Chloe can barely walk and on some days, she is so ill she can hardly talk.
Chloe was diagnosed with neuroblastoma – a rare and aggressive form of cancer – in January. She has been having chemotherapy, injections and blood transfusions, but is still only in the first part of a six-stage treatment process.
“Chloe is the youngest of ten children and as you could imagine, this news has hit us like an anvil,” said her mother, Rebecca Ferris.
“It’s feels like a hand grenade has been thrown into your family life. We have nine older happy, healthy children. We didn’t suspect anything.”
But the family, who live in Warblington, has just one wish – to hear Chloe sing again.
“Chloe has always sung songs, as many little girls love to,” said Rebecca.
“Her own versions of Disney songs, but beautiful and sweet to the ear. It was only when she became so ill she couldn’t even speak that I realised just how much she used to sing. And we all miss it so much.”
The next stage of Chloe’s treatment is an operation, stem cell support and radiotherapy.
“The whole process should take about a year,” said Rebecca. “We are calling 2014 Chloe’s year.”
With six older brothers, three older sisters and loving parents Rebecca and Wayne, Chloe has an abundance of support.
“They have all been amazing,” said Rebecca. “They are all so understanding, but it’s hard for them – sometimes we can’t do things we would otherwise be doing.”
Chloe started Jessie Younghusband Primary School in Chichester in September last year and dances with her sisters at the Ruth Stein School of Dance at Prebendal.
“She loves seeing family and friends when they are allowed to visit,” said Rebecca.
“Chloe was asked what her favourite colour was the other day. It used to be pink, but she said blue, green and yellow. Blue for the sky, green for the grass and yellow for the daffodils. She loves being outside.”
But the family is coming to terms with the realisation the biggest fight may still lie ahead.
“Neuroblastoma has very high rates of childhood deaths, being the second-biggest killer after accidents,” said Rebecca.
“It is so frightening and Chloe has and will continue to endure many painful and traumatic procedures and many weeks in hospital away from her family who miss her terribly.
“She has received outstanding care in Howard Ward, St Richard’s and Southampton General Hospital.
“But the dangerous word for us is relapse. Some days we live in total hope, other days we worry about the 60 or 70 per cent risk of relapse.”
Family friends have already been fundraising for a dream cottage for Chloe to play in when she can’t be around other children.
“It has been wonderful and the support has brought colour back to our lives,” said Rebecca.
But the couple want to keep raising funds to do all they can for their daughter’s future.
“We don’t know what the future will hold for Chloe. But we want to fundraise for her future treatment which may be abroad and help make some of her dreams come true for her.
“We want to hear Chloe’s songs again.”
The family is welcoming fundraising ideas, advice and donations from anyone who can support Chloe’s Song.
“We don’t really know how to do this,” said Rebecca. “But any help would be appreciated.”
To get in contact with the family, email firstname.lastname@example.org
Neuroblastoma is a cancer of specialised nerve cells called neural crest cells. These cells are involved in the development of the nervous system and other tissues.
Neuroblastoma most commonly occurs in either one of the two adrenal glands situated in the abdomen, nerve tissue which runs alongside the spinal chord in the neck, chest, abdomen or pelvis.
In some cases, neuroblastoma can spread to tissues beyond the original site such as the bone marrow, bone, lymph nodes, liver and skin.
Fewer than 100 children in the UK are diagnosed each year with neuroblastoma.