Panther Ridge 6 year old surprised by parade to celebrate end of her chemotherapy.
Charlotte Wells’ eyes opened wide, and her mouth dropped open as three emergency medical service vehicles and two firetrucks came around the corner with their sirens blaring.
The 6-year-old Panther Ridge resident stood outside her home in shock July 31.
A dozen cars followed behind the firetrucks filled with Charlotte’s family members and friends, who carried signs saying “Charlotte strong,” and “Charlotte, you are our favorite superhero,” to celebrate her final day of chemotherapy treatments.
At 8 p.m., July 31, she took her last dose of oral chemotherapy. Rachel and Matt Wells, Charlotte’s parents, hope they never again have to listen to the alarms on their phones go off to signify it’s time for Charlotte to take her medicine.
“It’s surreal,” Rachel Wells said of the treatment’s end. “I can’t believe it’s happening.”
Charlotte was diagnosed with cancer two years ago.
After Charlotte told them of pain in her leg, accompanied by unexplainable bruising, the Wells took her to the doctor. They were advised to go to John Hopkins All Children’s Hospital in St. Petersburg immediately.
On May 25, 2018, Rachel and Matt Wells received a diagnosis for Charlotte that made their hearts sink.
Charlotte, who was 4 at the time, was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia.
“At the time, we were more worried about our parents getting cancer,” Matt Wells said. “We never thought that childhood cancer would be a part of our lives.”
Charlotte spent 14 days at the hospital. Doctors prepared a two-year treatment plan for her, which would start with intense chemotherapy, lumbar punctures every week and doctor visits once per week that would gradually lessen.
In January 2019, Charlotte entered the maintenance stage of her treatment, which meant chemotherapy every night and a lumbar puncture every three months.
“We kind of went into it saying, ‘We’re going to fight and give her the most normal life we can give her going through this,’” Rachel Wells said.
The past two years have been filled with difficult moments. There were times the family would have to rush to the hospital at 2 a.m. because Charlotte was running a fever.
Through it all, there were also wonderful moments.
The first came June 29, 2018, when the Wells family found out Charlotte was in remission.
On May 25, 2019, the Wells family was at Walt Disney World for the one-year anniversary of Charlotte’s diagnosis. The family marked the date with smiles and laughter with family and friends.
The family also grew in the past two years. The Wells had their third daughter, Madison, seven months ago. Charlotte always wanted to have another sister.
“I’m the big one, Savannah is the middle one, and Madison is the little one,” Charlotte said with a smile.
Matt and Rachel Wells also watched in joy as Charlotte rang the bell at All Children’s Hospital on July 10 signifying her last in-patient visit to the hospital.
“I know I kept my emotions bottled up for almost two-and-a-half years and then just kind of let it all out,” Matt Wells said.
Matt and Rachel said Charlotte’s positive attitude kept them going.
“She wouldn’t fight us on taking her medicine or anything,” Rachel Wells said of Charlotte, who she describes as silly, theatric, funny and caring. “She always had a smile on her face, even going into a doctor’s appointment.”