Compassionate. Caring. Charismatic.
12-year-old Chloe Alexander glows with all of those traits from the moment you meet her.
Another C-word entered her life with a shock in 2014. Chloe started noticing weakness in her leg during dance and gymnastics, and eventually developed severe pain.
“I knew there was something wrong, but never in your wildest dreams do you ever imagine it could be something like cancer,” said Chloe’s mother, Jerri Alexander. “It just never crossed my mind.”
After several fruitless months of working with doctors in their hometown of Sullivan, Ind., and nearby Terre Haute, Ind., to try to pinpoint the problem, Chloe’s pain became so severe that the family ended up in the emergency room at Riley Hospital for
Children at Indiana University Health. “I remember I was in so much pain I could barely even move, which was kind of awful,” recalls Chloe.
Just hours after they arrived, Riley Pediatric Neurosurgeon Joel Boaz, M.D., was performing emergency surgery to remove a cancerous tumor from her lower spine. Jacob Zucker, M.D., then led Chloe’s treatment for Ewing sarcoma, which included chemotherapy and proton radiation therapy. “I can’t say enough about Dr. Zucker,” says Jerri. “He made Chloe feel very comfortable. We had great nurses too. It’s just like a great big huge family.”
Today, Chloe is finished with treatment and is back to school, cheerleading, dance and gymnastics. She says she is “ecstatic” to have the chance to give back to Riley as a Champion. “I just want to help out other kids that are like me,” says Chloe. She has already racked up experience as a Riley advocate by participating in a Riley Dance Marathon at her school, serving as a Colts Coin Toss Kid and sharing her Riley story with news media.
Her message to other children facing health challenges: “You just have to stay strong, and you have to have a lot of hope, and think positive.” Chloe credits Riley’s caring medical team for giving her that sense of hope. “They just believed that I would be okay,” she says. “That just makes me happy, like I WILL be okay. If they can believe it, why can’t I?”