Mother and daughter fight cancer together

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(Source: 3TV/CBS 5) (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
(Source: 3TV/CBS 5) (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
MESA, AZ (3TV/CBS 5) -

These days there are lots of smiles around the kitchen table in the Chanley home in Mesa.

But, just two years ago, keeping those smiles was not so easy, remembers mom Shawnee Chanley.

“Early 2015, I was diagnosed stage 4 thyroid cancer,” Shawnee said.

Facing surgery and intense radiation treatment, the last thing Chanley and her husband wanted was to let their kids know how frightening it was.

“And we did a really good job at guarding ourselves from appearing to be stressed or scared or anything like that,” she says.

Then, just months into that battle, the family was rocked again when then 16-year-old daughter Trinity was diagnosed with melanoma.

“I was mostly just shocked, like oh my gosh,” says Trinity of the day she heard the diagnosis.

Like Shawnee, she needed surgery, followed by a year of treatment with interferon.

"I would go and do shots, just three times a week in the stomach,” she says.

But what neither Shawnee nor Trinity realized at the time was they would end up being each other's best medicine.

“It kind of humbled my whole position I was in,” says Shawnee. “And made me put aside what I was going through because here is a child going through something so horrible.” 

 “I think a lot of it was we kind of kept each other stronger because it was like if I am over here looking sad, then they are going to be over there feeling even worse,” Trinity added.

[RELATED: Doctors face challenges getting clinical trials for children with cancer]

Shawnee says at times all she could do was just be there but Trinity says sometimes that was just what she needed.

“I was not doing well with treatment. I was constantly sick. All the time,” she remembers.

The family also found strength through the Children’s Cancer Network.

 “They always host events that the whole family is invited to. So we kept really busy with positive things,” Shawnee said.

Trinity is now cancer free, and Shawnee is in remission. They believe finding that positive strength helped them heal together.

"If you are staying positive and stuff then it just kind of makes you feel healthier," says Trinity.

“And it comes more naturally than you would think. I would picture myself in a situation saying, 'I will be a wreck. I won't be able to hold it together,' but you do,” Shawnee said.

And you can help create those positive experience with Children’s Cancer Network. That group benefits from Grand Canyon University’s Run to Fight Children’s Cancer. That run is this coming Saturday, March 11.  There is a 10K,  a 5K and Cancer Survivors' Walk.

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