SOUTHERN COLORADO — Hope and prayers are pouring in across the state and country for a little girl diagnosed with a rare form of cancer for a second time.
Capri Knies pulled through surgery to remove a cancerous adrenal tumor last year.
Unfortunately, after receiving a clean bill of health in December 2020, cancer returned.
Chandler and Liz Knies knew something just wasn't right with their youngest child not long after she was born.
"She has a little birth mark on the side of her face and so when she was about 4 months old, the dermatologist said as she gets older it will get darker and raised," Chandler said. "They recommended she get it removed at two or three years old."
The couple then started noticing other changes in Capri which led them to get a second opinion.
"I noticed she was getting really bad acne all through here (her face) like a teenager would," Chandler said.
They took Capri to a pediatrician who ran some scans. Capri's family was then sent to St. Jude's in Memphis, Tennessee.
Doctors had to remove a cancerous adrenal tumor through surgery.
6 months ago, the family received good news that Capri was cancer free, but the celebrations wouldn't last long.
In February of this year, Capri started showing symptoms again that something was wrong.
This time around, doctors found a lesion on her lungs.
"They were able to remove the metastatic lesion but because it's so rare and so aggressive, they gave her less than a 10-percent chance of survival," Liz said.
Capri was eventually diagnosed with Li Fraumeni syndrome, or LFS. It's a rare hereditary condition that increases a person's risk for widespread cancerous tumors.
Right now, there is no cure.
Doctors have since started an aggressive round of chemotherapy which requires Capri to spend a lot of time at St. Jude's.
"We trade off every week," Liz said. "One of us goes out there and then the other one is flying back to take care of the other kids and run our business."
2020 turned out to be a devastating year for the family.
They had just opened up a med-spa when COVID-19 shut businesses down.
Shortly after the pandemic began, the family received terrible news about Capri.
Unsure of how everything was going to progress, an unlikely angel appeared---it was the Mayor of Cañon City.
"When Capri was diagnosed with cancer, it was during the darkest days of COVID," Mayor Ashley Smith said. "For our community, it was an opportunity that we needed to rally around our town."
Mayor Smith has followed Capri's journey on social media and also knew the family was struggling to keep their small business afloat.
"If you're a small business owner and you close your doors, you're not making any money," she said.
Out of the kindness of her heart, Mayor Smith decided to step up.
"One day I came home and the Mayor had agreed to watch my kids so I could keep our business open at night to get clients in," Liz said. "She was here until 10 o'clock at our house, feeding my kids and had brought me lunch. It's just a testament to our great town."
Capri's story tugged at the hears of so many people who have never even met the brave little girl.
One day, Liz made a Facebook post encouraging everyone to wear new socks to support Capri's journey.
She says new socks always brought her husband good luck and now, Capri needs that luck.
Pretty soon, pictures poured in with people jumping on board with crazy sock pictures. Even city council joined in to show its support.
"We are incredibly fortunate that we've really rallied around each other as a community," Smith said.
Prayers have kept the family going.
The couple just launched their grand opening of their new med spa in the heart of Cañon City and Capri was healthy enough to come home in between her rounds of chemo.
The family knows life sometimes throws us all curve balls and unfortunately, they've had to face the reality of the situation at hand.
"I was meeting with one of the counselors and she said that we need to look at the Make a Wish Foundation," Chandler said. " That's when kids are dying. That's not my kid, but it has made it very much a reality and when people are decorating the front of the building it was like people do this when people are dying. They don't do this for happy kids. It's kind of been a reality check for both of us that we do have a baby with stage 4 cancer and we know survivability isn't very good, but we've said from day 1 we are going to do the best we can and we want her to live her best life."
The family wants to extend its gratitude to everyone who has supported them by donating organic food, helping clean up their yard and offering to volunteer in other ways.
Liz says a construction company even dropped off a card and money to help the family with other expenses.
Right now, Capri is back at St. Jude's undergoing another round of chemo.
The family often posts about Capri's journey on their Facebook page.