Hope continues to shine through slim odds

Cheyenne Hughes, 15, shows off her Optimus Prime action figure inside her Canyon Country home Monday night. Austin Dave/The Signal
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No paralysis. 

That’s the latest update on 15-year-old Cheyenne Hughes, the Canyon Country teen, whose struggle with a life-threatening tumor growing on her spine has been chronicled by The Signal the last two weeks. 

The teen was unconscious Wednesday morning, in the midst of a preparation for a lengthy and risky 29-hour surgery at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles.

Doctors revealed to the Hughes family on the eve of Thanksgiving that Cheyenne’s body and potentially livelihood was in jeopardy.

A mass had wrapped itself around her spine’s C-2 vertebra, where nerve clusters responsible for most of the body’s muscular functions lie.

Location of the tumor poses an extraordinary risk to the teen’s livelihood and if left untreated, continual growth would ultimately lead to painful death.


Paul and Amy Hughes flank their daughter Cheyenne, 15, in a photo. Photo courtesy Courtney Tole, CLTG Photography
Paul and Amy Hughes flank their daughter Cheyenne, 15, in a photo. Photo courtesy Courtney Tole, CLTG Photography
The Golden Valley High student pulled through the first of two planned medical procedures better than expected Friday, and continued on that path to survival Wednesday.

Her second, and by far riskiest procedure, began at 8 a.m.

Neurosurgeons began the procedure by placing a rod and screws on the teenager’s left side to secure her spine, father Paul Hughes explained over email.

At 3 p.m., her father, who is also fighting cancer, revealed his daughter was stable and the surgery was proceeding as expected.

Thirty minutes later, the circumstances had taken a turn — and for the better.

“We just got amazing news,” Hughes said over email.

“(The doctors) tried a different approach and were able to get almost all of the tumor way easier than ever imagined.”

Neurosurgeons still had some ground to gain as of 6:10 p.m., with several hours waiting to tick by before anything definitive would be known.

“I truly feel without all the support, prayers and love from the community, this wouldn’t be possible,” Hughes said.

“She still has some challenges, but getting so much of the tumor with apparently little nerve damage is amazing!”

For the young woman from Canyon Country continuing to defy slim odds, it’s a start and a small glimmer of hope for a family in a precarious situation.


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