Callie Strong: Community rallying around 18-month-old fighting cancer

Published: Jan. 9, 2019 at 10:41 PM EST
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CINCINNATI, OH (FOX19) - Community members are rallying around a young Cincinnati girl as she battles a very rare cancer.

Callie June Shaffer is in the fight of her life at only 17 months old. Her family members said she has always been a cheerful child -- spunky, sweet and tiny, but mighty.

“She has the biggest blue eyes and the longest eyelashes and the cutest smile," said Trisha Lamb, the girl’s aunt.

Candice Beal and Tiffany Shaffer have been caring for Callie for a while. They said she officially became their daughter this week through adoption.

“She loves playing, and she’s smart,” said Beal. "She learns quickly.”

Finalizing their family of four came right after they got a devastating diagnosis. Beal said Callie has Neuroblastoma, which is described by medical professionals as a very rare type of cancerous tumor that almost always affects children.

“It’s the worst thing a parent can ever go through," said Beal.

Callie’s parents said that cancer was the last thing they expected when her symptoms first started to show.

“She stopped eating. She stopped drinking. She stopped playing," said Beal. "She stopped being her.”

The couple said it took several visits to the doctor, a trip to an emergency room and a trip to Cincinnati Children’s Hospital for them to find out what was wrong with Callie. Their advice to fellow parents is to never stop pushing and prodding for answers.

“Continue fighting for your children. Be their advocate," said Beal. "Be their voice.”

Callie’s treatments will not be easy.

“She’ll have to stay (at the hospital) for four-to-six weeks depending on what stage they’re at," said Shaffer. "Then she gets out and comes home, and that’s for the next 18 months.”

Thankfully, Callie’s family members said they are already feeling the love and support through a Facebook page and a GoFundMe page. They believe that will keep them “Callie Strong.”

“It’s been heartwarming, and it has definitely lifted us up," said Beal.

One of Callie’s parents said she had to quit her jobs to care for Callie, so along with the GoFundMe page, there is also a T-Shirt fundraiser underway right now to help raise money for Callie and her family. If you would like to donate, visit the GoFundMe page. You can visit the T-Shirt sale website to purchase a shirt.

Follow Callie’s journey here.

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