Caroline’s Story

September 17, 2019
Did you know that every two minutes a child is diagnosed with cancer? We will be sharing true and inspiring stories from children in our community in honor of National Childhood Cancer Awareness Month.

This is Caroline’s Story:

“My name is Lauren Schaler and my husband is Christopher Schaler. We met at Ball State University in 2010, were married in 2013 and then gave birth to our beautiful daughter, Caroline, in June of 2015. Caroline was an extremely happy, healthy baby. In fact, she didn’t have so much as a cold until she was about 18 months old. In early December of 2017, Chris and I noticed Caroline’s left eye was slightly swollen and reddish in color. Initially, we didn’t think much of it as another child in her daycare class was diagnosed with pink eye around the same time.

After a few days passed without any improvement, we decided to seek medical attention. I still remember that snowy Saturday morning like it was yesterday. My husband and I loaded Caroline into the car and headed for the established patient acute care clinic in our pajamas and slippers, fully expecting to come home with an antibiotic and a handful of stickers from the nursing staff. When we arrived, we learned the clinic didn’t open for another half hour. My husband suggested going home as opposed to waiting. He said, “You know it isn’t anything big. We can just come back on Monday.” Something inside me told me to stay. So we ran to grab a donut and quickly returned to the clinic.

When the doctor came into our room, we were surprised to see Caroline’s pediatrician. We expected to be seen by a different doctor since this wasn’t a scheduled appointment. Our doctor took one look at her eye and immediately ordered a CT and labs. We were sent to Hancock Regional Hospital for testing and learned an hour later a grape-sized mass was growing behind our daughter’s eye. We left the doctor’s office, knowing life as we knew it was about to completely change. Caroline laughed and played with a purple balloon as we drove on the icy interstate to Riley Hospital for Children. In the ten or so hours following, our daughter was diagnosed with cancer. I fell to the floor of the surgery waiting room when the surgeon reported his findings: cancer. So many scary thoughts filled my head. The surgeon said the tumor was Rhabdomyosarcoma and had been growing for approximately seven to fourteen days. He was also very confident that it could be effectively treated with chemotherapy and radiation.

The next six months would be the hardest six months of our lives. Those days were filled with tears, needles, surgeries, tantrums, hair loss, fatigue, heartache, and medicine after medicine. But those days also held hope. Caroline’s doctors were always sure she would beat cancer and she did. On May 24, 2018, Caroline was declared cancer-free. Chris and I are so incredibly thankful to have our girl happy and healthy again.”

Story provided by: Lauren and Christopher Schaler

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