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With new study approaching, Roseville family talks about the struggles of cancer

American Cancer Society calls on volunteers for 30-year probe
By: Scott Thomas Anderson, Editor
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Blood donation day in honor of Chloe Harrington

On Friday, April 19 from 1 to 6 p.m., Blood Source will host a blood donation drive at Kaiser Hospital, Roseville in honor of Chloe Harrington, a 3-year-old Roseville girl who has been battling back from Leukemia.

Chloe Harrington is a smiling 3-year-old who’s looking forward to the day when she can dance to her mother’s ringtone without hospital tubes slowing her down.

Chloe’s parents, brothers and sisters represent one of thousands of Placer County families affected by some form of cancer. With healthy members of the public being called to participate in a new 30-year cancer study, Chloe’s mother and father opened up about how the threat of cancer and the travails of its treatment impact the lives of so many in the community.

Chloe suffers from a rare form of Leukemia that is frighteningly common for her girls like her, i.e., children born with downs syndrome. Her parents, Lee and Beth Harrington, were actually on the other side of the world in Eastern Europe, adopting Chloe’s baby sister, who also has downs syndrome, when Chloe’s aunt took her for a check-up and it discovered she had Leukemia.

“When a cancer diagnosis hits a family, it’s natural to say, ‘why us?’” Lee Harrington said. “As a parent, it’s shocking at first: One of your kids has a life-threatening disease, and the only way they can treat it is by threatening her life with chemo. But that was tempered by all of the information we got from the doctors here at Kaiser: They were direct about her condition, how they were going to approach it and the things we could expect. They didn’t sugarcoat it, but they inspired a lot of confidence.”

Various forms of cancer have changed families across Placer County, and no one knows it better than the Harringtons. When news of Chloe’s diagnosis got out, Roseville’s community gave an outpouring of support. It also became clear that many other parents, brothers and sisters were going through the same monumental uncertainty.

“We’ve had people reach out to us to talk about their experiences and their diagnoses,” Beth Herrington recalled. “And we’ve made a couple of friends here at Kaiser’s Women and Children Center — parents whose children are also going through chemo … we’re hear so often, it’s like a second residency. The staff has become like a second family to us.”

One member of that staff is Kaiser pediatric oncologist Dr. Sonali Lakshminarayanan, who told the Press Tribune that Cleo’s current prognosis is good.

“Chloe did very well with her treatment,” the doctor said. “An important part of this has been keeping her in a safe room where she won’t be exposed to any spores from AC vents or other environmental contaminants. Right now she’s recovering and should be able to go home soon.”  

Only minutes after Lakshminarayanan said that, Beth Harrington’s cell phone rang, sounding off with its country music ringtone. Chloe, who had just woken up from a nap, threw herself into a dance across the floor of her hospital room, even with medical tubes and wires slowing her down.”

Smiling, Beth said, “Having the freedom to dance at home will be one thing she’s looking forward to.”

This week, representatives from the American Cancer Society called on residents of Placer County to participate in what it deemed “a historic study that has the potential to change the face of cancer for future generations.” The ACS is asking men and women between the ages of 30 and 65 who have never been diagnosed with cancer to enroll in its Study-3, or CPS-3. The study is looking to examine a diverse population of 300,000 people across the United States. The ACS says its goal is goal is to research lifestyle, environmental and genetic factors that cause or prevent cancer. The study is expected to last 20 to 30 years. To enroll, show up to Sutter Roseville Medical Center on April 18 from 3:30 to 7 p.m.

From Lee Harrington’s perspective, advancing scientific knowledge has played a huge role in his family having cause to be positive about Chloe’s future.

“Any time you can expand the information, it gives people the ability to self-educate and make decisions,” Lee said. “Studies like this give you more data, which is important, because fear of cancer is really fear of the unknown.”