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Parents of toddler battling rare cancer not giving up hope

EDMONTON – Two-year-old Cheyenne Zwicker from Irma, Alberta has been through six rounds of chemo since being diagnosed with a pediatric cancer in October.

“I don’t know how she’s gone through everything, and she still wakes up and she smiles and giggles,” said her mom, Mandy Zwicker.

She and her husband decided to take their daughter to get checked out by a doctor after noticing a lump near her left hip.

“For the longest time, I thought it was just her hip bone coming through, it started getting bigger,” she said. “I never thought cancer; I thought maybe a hernia, or something’s oversized.”

Tests confirmed the worst: the toddler’s lump was cancerous and she was diagnosed with neuroblastoma.

“I couldn’t move, I didn’t know what to think, I didn’t know how to react,” recalled her father, Robbie Zwicker. “I was scared.”

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“You deal with a lot,” added his wife. “It changes your life from that moment on; you don’t really know until you experience it.”

Since the diagnosis, the family has been spending much of its time at the Stollery Children’s Hospital in Edmonton. The parents were given two options: palliative care or continuing with chemo, which they were reportedly told would have a very low likelihood of survival.

So, instead, they decided to bring their little girl home. Despite all she’s been through, and the hair she’s lost, the two-year-old is as happy as can be while colouring and playing with her toys, banging away on a drum set, or cuddling up to her dad.

“She’s so full of life,” he said as he kissed his daughter’s head, making the youngster giggle.

He and his wife haven’t give up on finding her a treatment that works.

“We really hope there is something outside of what we’ve tried.”

The parents are looking at an alternative treatment in California, and trying to raise $29,000 for it.

A Facebook page has been started, and friends and strangers have been pitching in to help, recently surprising the family with a trip to West Edmonton Mall for Cheyenne’s birthday.

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Unfortunately, the festivities were cut short after Cheyenne came down with a fever and had to be rushed to hospital. Her loved ones are hopeful she’ll get to celebrate a third birthday.

“Every day,” her mom said, “is a gift from here on out.”

UPDATE: A fundraiser for the family is planned on Mother’s Day. You can email uhohtoobusy@gmail.com for more information.

With files from Kendra Slugoski, Global News