ALABASTER, Ala. (WIAT) — Charlie Jean Reeder is 6 years old. You may never know by watching her that the little ray of sunshine was once fighting for her life.
It all started with a tummy ache.
“We just took her to the doctor for like a normal kid thing. We happened to be at the beach over the weekend and she was like throwing up and getting super sick,” Charlie Jean’s dad Brett recalled.
Charlie Jean was 2 years old when her family heard the news.
“About a week went by, and she was still getting sick. And so we took her back, and he did some blood work and said, ‘you guys need to go to Children’s Hospital. They told us it was neuroblastoma. A serious form of cancer.”
Cancer. That word carries so much weight, especially for the family of a young child.
“She would say, ‘This is not fair,'” her mom Amanda said. “You know. ‘My friends don’t have to do this. Why do I have to take shots? Why do I have to take medicine?’ Or she would want to eat and she couldn’t. And you could just see the exhaustion.”
Charlie Jean’s ponytail full of beautiful hair soon fell out as she battled for her life. That’s when the nonprofit Make-A-Wish gave her a trip to Disney World.
“She wanted to be Belle or whatever and they gave her these extensions…and here comes my daughter, and she’s got this long flowing hair that. Uh. We’d never seen before. After she had lost her hair. You know I just completely lost it,’ Brett said.
Three years have passed since Charlie Jean was diagnosed and she has won her battle: she is now in remission.
“We believed that you know, one day she was going to be cured. And so she got to go completely healthy and enjoy the full Disney experience, which was awesome,” her dad said.
Now, with her hair growing every day, that ray of sunshine sports a yellow ribbon to raise money and remind others that there are many children still suffering from pediatric cancer.
If you would like to help Charlie Jean and other children suffering from pediatric cancer, her family is raising money for the non-profit organization Camp Smile-A-Mile. To donate, click here.