4-year-old girl beats cancer but kids mock her scars, fed-up mom confronts her tormentors

Every parent’s worst nightmare is that something bad could befall their child.

Doubts, insecurities and anxiety are ever-presents for most moms and dads, and as parents you always try to do your best when it comes to protecting your young ones.

But some things cannot be protected against.

Michelle Russell of Puyallup, Washington experienced every parent’s worst nightmare when she learned that her four-year-old daughter Claire had a tumor in the middle of her back, touching her spine.

Claire was diagnosed with Ewing’s Sarcoma, a very rare cancer that grows in the bones or soft tissue around them.

Suddenly this little girl ended up in a situation where she had to fight for her life.

Claire Russell (Michelle Russell / Instagram)

Claire’s disease was discovered when the air pressure during mid-flight caused her severe pain.

Michelle said: ‘Going on that plane could have saved our daughter’s life, without it we wouldn’t have thought the pain in her back was anything more than muscle or growing pains.

The young girl was immediately rushed to hospital after the plane landed where she received her cancer diagnosis.

“She didn’t know how to ride a bike, had never stepped into a classroom, and spent most of her days in a tutu,” mom Michelle recalled, describing 4-year-old Claire when she was diagnosed with cancer.

Claire Russell (Michelle Russell / Instagram)

In the next year, Claire would endure more pain and suffering than most adults see in a lifetime.

One time, Michelle was forced to hand her baby over to surgeons for a surgery that was more than twelve hours long.

“They removed four of her ribs, part of her spinal sheath, and fused her spine,” Michelle revealed, admitting that looking back at photos is hard.

Claire Russell (Michelle Russell / Instagram)

Unfortunately, one of Claire’s lungs collapsed after the advanced surgery. The little girl was placed on a ventilator and spent a week in intensive care.

But, luckily, the little girl who often wore a tutu was a warrior.

Claire Russell (Michelle Russell / Instagram)

“What stands out most in my mind is her utter bravery,” Michelle explained, describing the strength Claire mustered when she saw her mom cry.

“She squeezed my hand, and whispered a tiny ‘I love you,’” Claire’s mom recalled.

“She didn’t want me to be afraid, she didn’t want me to be sad.”

Claire cancer
Claire Russell (Michelle Russell / Instagram)

Claire’s cancer treatment was brutal with seventeen rounds of chemotherapy and multiple surgeries over the course of a year.

Claire lost a quarter of her body weight, dropping to a fragile 30lbs. She would attend funerals of friends she met and loved, who were lost to the same disease she was fighting.

Claire Russell (Michelle Russell / Instagram)

She would lose her beautiful head of blonde curls, nearly all of her muscle mass, and her childlike innocence.

”The chemo gave her pains sores in her throat and mouth, which made it difficult for her to eat and she lost a quarter of her body weight”, Michelle said.

Claire Russell (Michelle Russell / Instagram)

Claire had ten more doses of chemo, which left her bones so weak she broke her femur while playing just weeks before being given the all-clear.

When Claire was finally declared in remission, Michelle took home “a frail, pale, bald, five-year-old, covered in scars.”


Three years later, Claire had won her war against cancer.

“Though small for 8 years old, she is beautiful, healthy, muscular, outgoing, funny, a talented competitive dancer, and an honor roll student. She is an amazing overcomer. In many ways, she has healed,” Michelle said.

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