About one year ago Golden Valley High School student Cheyenne Hughes shocked doctors when she pulled through a major, 10-hour surgery to remove a tumor found at the base of her brain and around her C2 vertebrae.
Her father, Paul Hughes, called it nothing short of a miracle.
“A year ago we were doing the surgery to remove the tumor from the spine and the brain and there was limited chance that she was going to survive, but she did survive,” Paul Hughes said. “They were expecting a 30-hour surgery, but it was 10 hours and they got most of the tumor… She did really well and was able to walk and came home five days later.”
The surgery was part of Cheyenne’s nearly seven year battle against cancer as she underwent surgeries, chemotherapy and radiation treatments, in addition to fighting a rare genetic disorder called Familial Adenomatous Polyposis.
But, through it all, Cheyenne remained positive and strong, focusing on making memories with her family and persevering in the face of danger.
“We take a lot of our strength from her and we build her up and that keeps us focused and distracted and keeping her happy and healthy,” said Amy Hughes, Cheyenne’s step-mother.
- Cheyenne Hughes sits with her siblings near their family’s Christmas tree after undergoing surgery on Monday, Dec. 25, 2107. Courtesy Photo
The Hughes family also attributes much of Cheyenne’s strength and perseverance during the surgery to the support she received from the Santa Clarita Valley community, who made her believe she was going to be okay.
“I love it,” Cheyenne said of the community’s messages and support.
The family took the time to read every single message to Cheyenne to give her some extra encouragement each day.
“It’s pretty amazing, I’ve never seen anything like it for Chey to feed off of it and to help her,” Paul Hughes said.
And now the Hughes family needs the community’s rallying support again, as Cheyenne faces new health struggles.
On the one year anniversary of her risky surgery, doctors discovered a new tumor on her spine.
“We found out there was a tumor and we biopsied it and they scheduled the surgery for the beginning of the year and it did not go too well,” Paul Hughes said.
What doctors thought was superficial tumor ended up being a large one that invaded her spine. In five weeks it had grown more than 10 centimeters, according to Paul Hughes.
With few treatment options, the future remains uncertain, as doctors are unsure how long the teen has to live.
- Cheyenne Hughes sits with Transformers dolls in Santa Clarita. Courtney of Tole, CLTG Photography
But through the news, the Transformers-loving teen is still smiling and happy, fighting to defy the odds.
“She told me already that ‘they picked the wrong Autobot and that she’s going to kick their butt.'” Paul Hughes said.
The Hughes family is also focusing on using this time to make memories and appreciate what they have in their lives.
“We try to get all the kids’ spirits up and try to get out of the house and do things that are fun and have those experiences where we build those memories… We just really try to focus on the memories, taking our time, not taking things for granted,” Amy Hughes said. “It’s a whole family affair. Everybody is in it together, we all have to make sacrifices and we all have to go through it and we all have to come out on the other side.”
- The Hughes family smiles together in their home on New Year’s Eve 2017. Courtesy Photo
“Team Hughes” is also relying on each other to make it through the next few months as they prepare for the battle in front of them.
“We have lots of fun and we’re just there if somebody needs something,” Paul Hughes said. “We’re all going to be there and we’re a team and we’re all going through it together.”
On Twitter as @_ChristinaCox_