Celebrating life: Pink fire truck visits CVES cancer survivor

By CLARKE STACKHOUSE/Staff Writer

ALABASTER — Charlie Jean Reeder is a first grader at Creek View Elementary School. She is 6 years old, her favorite color is pink, and she loves to play and enjoys her school, teacher and friends. Reeder is also a cancer survivor.

Charlie’s dad Brett Reeder said Charlie was diagnosed when she was 2 years old with neuroblastoma stage 3 high risk. He said they treated her cancer aggressively with high dose chemotherapy and surgeries.

“It’s like nuclear warfare,” Brett said. “You have to hit it with everything you have. Charlie Jean had to grow up too fast.”

Charlie’s mom Amanda Reeder said Charlie has been in remission for two years and was unable to attend public school until this year due to the intensive treatment plan and chemo.

“Chemo makes you more susceptible to diseases,” Amanda said. “So Charlie couldn’t be around a lot of other kids because kids carry a lot of germs.”

Amanda said Charlie has loved being in school and is so thankful to the teachers and staff at CVES and the opportunities it has given Charlie.

One of those opportunities was a visit on Oct. 3 from Cindy and Shelby, a pink fire truck and patrol vehicle that visit cancer patients receiving treatment and survivors. Charlie said she got to get on the fire truck and wear a special pink firefighter hat. As part of the visit Charlie added her name to the list of survivors that filled the outside of the truck.

Charlie Jean Reeder (right) stands with her teacher Tami McCarver in front of Cindy on Oct. 3. Charlie was able to sign the truck and add her name to the list of survivors. (Contributed)

Charlie Jean Reeder (right) stands with her teacher Tami McCarver in front of Cindy on Oct. 3. Charlie was able to sign the truck and add her name to the list of survivors. (Contributed)

“We took a lot of pictures,” Charlie said. “And I loved putting my name on the truck!”

Charlie’s teacher Tami McCarver helped arrange the visit through her husband.

McCarver said the fire truck and patrol car are part of the lower Alabama chapter of Pink Heals, a national nonprofit that visits cancer fighters and survivors to celebrate their lives and their fight.

“My husband works in a fire department and knows some people who work with Pink Heals,” McCarver said. “He was able to pull some strings and arrange the visit. Charlie is such a burst of energy and we are so happy she is a part of our class.”

The Reeders said the time spent fighting was hard but they kept faith and were able to meet new friends and important people in their lives.

“The boo-boos weren’t good, but it was fun to meet new people,” Charlie said.

Amanda said it’s the last thing you want to happen as a parent but they are happy they fought through it and can’t wait to see what Charlie’s life will be.

“It’s not the life you want or expect,” Amanda said. “But its what we were given and we live every day in the moment. We’re putting it behind us and loving life.”