PUEBLO — A little girl in Pueblo recently beat cancer and now her family is sharing her story of hope and remarkable strength.
Four-year-old Cecilia "Cece" Long was diagnosed with lymphoblastic leukemia when she was 13 months old. Her parents, Katie and Chance Long, said the diagnosis was an unexpected shock to the family.
"It happened kind of how cancer happens,(it was) unexpected. She wasn't getting sick beforehand, like our minds didn't go there," said Katie. "I didn't know what to think when it happened."
Thanks to doctors' quick actions at Children's Hospital Colorado, Colorado Springs, the Long family began treatment for Cece right away. The family took dozens of trips to the hospital for treatments, making the drive from Pueblo to Colorado Springs up to four times every week.
"Some visits were fast and some were all day," said Chance. "It's hard to know you have to put your child through this for them to get better."
Cece underwent hours of chemotherapy and a number of spinal taps at the hospital, but through it all, she remained a trooper. Cece says she wasn't scared because she was surrounded by doctors and nurses at the Children's Hospital, who turned into the Long's support system.
"Nobody knows what to expect when this happens to you," said Chance. "They make you feel at ease with what you're going through."
"Of course they're a medical resource, but they celebrated birthdays with us and milestones with us," said Katie. "To say they're just a hospital is an understatement."
While the Long family knows they still have a long road ahead, they know there are other local families who are battling pediatric cancer too. Their message to others is that you're not alone, your voices are heard, and you have a large support system in the Pueblo and Colorado Springs community.
"Cancer is so smart and it's constantly changing. Families like us rely on that kind of support," said Katie. "There are so many kids even within our community here in Pueblo, and families touched by cancer, and until you become part of that community, you don't realize it."
"Just know that you're not alone, and there is hope at the end of it," said Chance. "You have to trust the process and the staff, and at the end of it, you'll be okay."
As for Cece, her message for other kids who are battling cancer, "Just be brave," she says.
For more information on how to donate to pediatric cancer research, click here.