Imagine having to fight for your life not once, but twice in the span of two years. After beating stage 4 T-Cell Lymphoma in 2018, 9-year-old Claire Noland started off 2020 with the news that her cancer came back, and this time it was stage 3.
Before Claire's relapse, KSBY was first introduced to her in 2019 when she took the stage in a recital called Ballet Unbound.
"My favorite part about it is that we get to express our feelings and show them in movement," Claire said.
It was just three months after that performance and 18 months of being cancer-free that Claire's cancer came back. It's news that no parent ever wants to hear.
"When you receive a diagnosis, especially a relapse diagnosis because you know what you're getting into, time stands still, you know exactly where you were sitting, what you were staring at, and a flood of emotions," Lindsey Noland, Claire's mom, said.
Despite the devastating news, the diagnosis didn't dim Claire's contagious sparkle.
"I can show others that having cancer you can still do a lot of things," Claire said.
Claire continues to dance and go to school in between trips to Stanford Children's Hospital every three weeks for treatment.
Her enthusiasm for life has even caught the attention of actor and San Luis Obispo native Sacha Carlson who has a starring role in the Netflix series Julie and the Phantoms.
"After hearing Claire's story, I instantly wanted to be a part of this project," Carlson said. "I'm very moved by her strength and her bravery. I mean, she's nine years old, that is beyond me."
Carlson is partnering with three San Luis Obispo High School students to form the Coastal Cancel Cancer Crew to compete in the Students of the Year competition to raise money for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.
"This is that tangible way to improve other people's lives," Mattea Kalpakoff, a member of Coastal Cancel Cancer Crew, said.
The money raised through the competition will go towards research that will fund breakthroughs in pediatric cancer research that could help patients just like Claire.
"Her targeted therapy goes into her body and then for three weeks it attaches to the cancer cell and implodes," Lindsey said.
Claire currently receives a treatment that is only approved by the Food and Drug Administration to be used on adults, but Lindsey says the treatment is helping Claire and it's working.
The start of 2020 wasn't what Claire was expecting.
"It wasn't fun because I knew it was going to be similar to last time," Claire said.
However, if Claire knows one thing is for sure, it's this:
"All the hard things happen when they happen, it always ends."