CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - Beginning of Chloe Morris’s College Essay: “Most people do not know this, but I have a secret identity. I do not talk about it much because I do not want to make people jealous. My secret identity helps me miss school to attend meetings on how to change the world.”
Catchy, right? Read on and you realize her “secret power” is that she lives with a rare illness called Tuberous Sclerosis.
“I meet with my team every 3 months, and they scan my whole body to see if my powers have progressed or weakened. I was diagnosed with this power in 2015... …I began to ask lots of questions, and they began to tell me I had brain tumors and tumors on my kidneys. We sought out immediate help to assist me with my powers.”
At first Chloe – who lives in Mint Hill – didn’t consider her TS a secret power. Why does she now? “I really struggled with having TS for a long time. I was mad at myself, my parents, my friends, and especially God. I did not know why this was happening to me. I have always had really great health. After months of getting bad news from the doctors that my tumors on my brain had grown, I finally got one good doctor visit. They told me the chemo drug I had been taking helped shrink my brain tumors by 66%... …afterwards, I started getting my mojo back. I was the fun, goofy, happy Chloizzle all my friends loved. Once it really set in that my tumors were shrinking, I started looking at my tumors as ‘powers.’ I saw it as my powers growing strong in me to want to help other with TS.”
Her essay ended like this: “My family and I have since planned and executed a walk to help raise money for more cures and research for TS. We have raised $11,500! I could not be happier to help others with the same powers as me and bring awareness to Tuberous Sclerosis. Thank you.”
When Chloe’s mom first reached out to ask if she could be one of our amazing #MollysKids and started explaining TS, I’ll be honest. I didn’t get it. The disease basically causes benign tumors to grow on major organs; Chloe had them on her brain and kidneys. But again, benign tumors. Better than cancerous.
She didn’t really have any side-effects, just needed constant monitoring. It took reading Chloe’s college application essay to understand what it did mentally to her 18-year-old daughter. When Chloe was diagnosed in December 2015, she’d originally gone in for a dermatologist appointment to check her scalp for skin cancer. The diagnosis came back as this TS they’d never heard of before.
She got used to being checked-checked-checked. Until one day, one tumor was growing so fast in Chloe’s brain, she had to start chemo. Suddenly this teenager was on chemo for an illness that had no symptoms, but the chemo was giving her symptoms. And, as you could tell by her college essay, it became understandably frustrating.
Good news is (as her essay also indicates), Chloe is doing better now. But because of the rareness of TS, Heather says they have a tough time finding families who understand. Her mom would love to know if there’s anyone out there reading this who “gets it” and they can connect with.
"It’s hard because you feel alone,” Heather Morris said. “People don’t really understand what you’re going through because they’ve never heard of the disease.” Comment below if you have any ideas for Chloe and Heather on groups or other moms/kids who wouldn’t mind connecting. Heather will be reading all comments. Meantime… congrats are in order for Chloe. She’s going to Wingate University and will start as a freshman studying Business Management in the fall.
Editor’s note: This is about one of #MollysKids, children WBTV Anchor Molly Grantham follows closely on her Facebook page. It was first published there, which is why it’s written in a personal way. For years Molly has followed hundreds of kids with uphill medical battles. Find this story and updates on all #MollysKids here.