Christmas came early for one Canyon Country teen, but at a cost: Her family wanted her to be able celebrate the holiday before undergoing a major surgery with an uncertain outcome.
Over the past 8 years, 15-year-old Cheyenne Hughes has survived more than many do in a lifetime, including tumors, seizures, chemotherapy, radiation treatment and multiple surgeries. Although she was able to celebrate her 13th birthday as a recent cancer survivor, a new tumor was discovered about a year ago.
With Cheyenne's surgery coming up next week, her family wanted her to be able to celebrate the holidays in good health and spirit. On Tuesday, she awoke to the surprise of a Christmas tree with a mound of presents underneath.
"Chey was really worried that maybe she won’t be home for Christmas so we wanted to make sure that she had one and she felt well enough, so we did it early," her stepmom, Amy Hughes, said.
Cheyenne's extensive medical history stems from a genetic disorder known as familial adenomatous polyposis, as well as a seizure disorder and ventriculoperitoneal shunt, her stepmom said.
Because the new growth is wrapped around Cheyenne's spine at the base of her skull and grew rapidly, the Dec. 7 surgery will be a delicate one. Despite her previous experience undergoing treatment and beating the odds, Cheyenne said she is "scared" and "nervous."
Although the odds may be steep, Cheyenne won't survive without surgery, either.
"Without the surgery she’s not going to survive," her dad, Paul Hughes, said. "She’ll eventually lose all function, and it’ll be a slow, painful way for her to go. With the surgery it’s still very risky, there’s a high percentage of her not making it off the table."
And if Cheyenne does survive, “there’s a possibility that she might not be able to walk or speak," Amy said.
Although the Hughes family is ensuring they're prepared for the worst, they're still expecting the best.
"No matter how bad it is she always bounces back," dad Paul said. "She’s always been my hero."
"We’re hoping for a Christmas miracle," Amy added.
The Hughes have set up a GoFundMe page to raise money for Cheyenne's medical expenses.
Correction: An earlier version of this story mischaracterized Amy Hughes' family relationship to Cheyenne Hughes, and gave the incorrect timeframe for when the new tumor appeared. The story has been updated.