‘So much grace and happiness’: Guilford County mother raising funds for research after daughter dies of rare cancer

Piedmont Triad News

GUILFORD COUNTY, N.C. (WGHP) — At 2-years-old, Cora Tew was full of laughter, smiles that could fill a whole room, and a love to be pushed in the swing set by her bigger sister.

What her family did not know is that at such a young age, she would be diagnosed and ultimately pass away from a rare form of childhood cancer, known as rhabdomyosarcoma.

On Feb. 14, 2019, Cora’s mother Shelby took her daughter to the doctor for a check-up on a knot that had shown up in her daughter’s left knee.

“She was a very happy and playful individual,” Shelby said of the days leading up to that visit. “I mean she had no symptoms. We just found it, that knot in her leg that we thought was just an injury. Within days we found out it was cancer.”

This rare form of cancer develops in roughly 400 children a year, with more than half of those being under the age of 10.

The cancer starts in the soft tissues of the bodies and then, “it invades very quickly the surrounding body parts. It’s like tentacles, it just reaches out.”

Children who get it have a 50% chance of the cancer returning after remission.

The following months after the diagnosis Cora and her family spent time in Ohio getting treatment for her.

Her mother said it was the bravest thing she had ever seen anyone do.

“She sat in this big ole room at this table, strapped, getting radiation. Every day for 23 days, at the age of 3.”

In January 2020 Cora and her family got the news that every cancer patient wants to hear, that the radiation treatment had been successful. Doctors had also been able to remove the tumor through surgery.

While Cora was shy to ring the bell that has become known as the signal of hope after chemotherapy is over, her mother, sister, and father stood beside her to cheer this moment on.

Cora, who was four at this time, would go through a series of remission check-ins to make sure that the cancer had not returned.

“During her first check-up everything was negative for cancer,” Shelby said. During a second check-in during September 2020, doctors would find that the cancer had returned and begun to spread through Cora’s body.

“Microscopic cancer cells,” still existed in Cora’s body.

At this time doctors said chemotherapy would only prolong Cora’s life and that there were no other treatment options to cure Cora’s cancer.

“I did my off-site research for alternative treatments because I know chemo was not going to be an answer and not going to cure her. We were led to peptide treatment that we had made for her out of a clinic in Arizona.”

In the last few months of her life, the peptide treatment began to no longer work to boost Cora’s immune system.

Her family was able to move back to North Carolina where, on Nov. 19, Cora passed away.

Shelby said, “everyday you have, even through a cancer journey, as long as they’re breathing and they’re here – make it a good day. Because we never knew that we’d lose her this soon.”

The tumor that was inside of Cora has been donated to research so that other families may have the chance she did at beating this illness.

On Saturday, Cora’s family will host a Celebration of Life ceremony at the Summerfield First Baptist Church at 2300 Scalesville Road at 1 p.m.

This is open to the public.

Copyright 2022 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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