Pediatric Cancer Patient Puts the Roe in HeRo(e)

Roe RoeIt was a cloudy day in June, and sisters Pearl Monroe (“Roe Roe”) and Carson Parry Tucker were out for a walk with their dad. They went to the park a lot that summer, to give their mom, Meredith, time to rest with their newborn brother. 

As with many of those walks, it wasn’t long before Roe Roe's pace slowed. Though lifesaving, her cancer treatments caused bone pain that at times made it hard to walk - it could be so excruciating, she felt like she was crawling out of her own skin.

“Daddy, carry me,” she said, looking up to Chad, who’s also a news anchor and reporter at FOX8 WGHP in High Point, NC. Before he could reach down, Carson Parry swooped in. “I’ll carry you, Roe Roe,” she said and cradled her sister in her arms.

As the Tuckers know well, lifting each other up is just what sisters - and families - do. 

In 2019, Roe Roe was diagnosed with leukemia. Since then, she’s needed 17 spinal chemo infusions; 40 IV chemotherapy treatments; 1,388 chemotherapy pills; 4 hospital admissions; 6 ER visits and more. 

Fortunately, Atrium Health Levine Children’s Brenner Children’s Hospital is in Winston-Salem, NC. This meant Roe Roe could receive top-of-the-line pediatric cancer care close to home from an extensive team that collaborates with doctors across the nation to drive research and novel treatments for pediatric cancer.  

After 858 days of treatment, Roe Roe entered remission. She marked the milestone by ringing the bell on March 28, 2022 - her 6th birthday - and embarked on a new age of life: an age of freedom.

A Place of Care and Comfort

Roe Roe.In the fall of 2019, 3-year-old Roe Roe began experiencing mysterious symptoms. The worst were leg aches beyond typical growing pains, which kept her up at night and forced her to crawl instead of walk.

That’s when the Tuckers were referred to Brenner Children’s Hospital, where lab results revealed leukemia. “I lost it,” recalls Meredith, Roe Roe’s mom, who was 20 weeks pregnant at the time. “Our world was completely rocked.” She stopped working to care for Roe Roe full-time, while Chad continued working to support his family.

Their world was rocked once again just a few months into Roe Roe’s treatment, when the global COVID-19 pandemic was declared. Now they were faced not just with navigating life with pediatric cancer, but a time of unprecedented uncertainty and isolation.

When Roe Roe’s little brother Franklin Reeves was born in April of 2020, Meredith describes it as “a bright spot in this dark storm.” She recalls the mixed emotions of staying home with a newborn, while Chad took Roe Roe to Brenner Children's Hospital for treatment. “Here I am with my fresh newborn, with life - and then Roe Roe, we’re trying to save her life.”

Over the next two years, Brenner Children’s Hospital became like a second home for the Tuckers - and her doctors and nurses, like family. “We provide excellent care as if we were taking care of one of our own family members. We become part of their family, and they become part of ours,” says Nancy Smith, RN, BSN, one of Roe Roe’s nurses.

The team at Brenner Children’s Hospital and across Atrium Health Levine Children’s works hard to help kids feel safe and comfortable, even while receiving the most challenging treatments. This includes celebrating birthdays and special moments (“We celebrate everything,” adds Smith), as well as offering child life, art therapy and other support services.

“Sometimes people would think the hospital is a scary place, that you’d hate being there. For us, we don’t. We find comfort in it. Even though that’s where our whole world fell apart, we still find comfort in Brenner Children’s Hospital,” says Meredith. “It’s where everyone healed our daughter."

Despite the countless doctors’ visits, tough treatments and challenges of the pandemic, Roe Roe’s energy and spirits remained high, and she skipped through the parking lot after spinal taps and even started kindergarten. When it came time to shave her daughter’s head, Meredith, a professional hair stylist, felt nothing but pride. 

“It felt empowering to me in some way,” she says. “We have a warrior who is fighting - let everybody see her."

Roe Roe’s Heroes

Roe Roe and family.After all they’ve been through, the Tuckers know how important community is, which is why they formed Roe Roe’s Heroes Childhood Cancer Foundation. Through their foundation, they’re helping other families facing pediatric cancer, including those at Brenner Children’s Hospital. “It's the least we can do to give thanks and love to others being served by the pediatric clinic that saved our daughter,” says Chad.

Now 8 years old and in second grade, Roe Roe has had two years of clear bloodwork - in three more, she’ll be considered officially cured.

When she started school, Roe Roe was in the thick of cancer treatment. Though she felt comfortable with her kindergarten teacher and classmates, who became a safe space to share her journey, walking into school was scary. The stress and side effects of cancer treatment, especially the pain, caused anxiety and she couldn’t go in alone.

On the day she rang the bell, her entire school surprised her with a birthday party and special sendoff, complete with signs, noisemakers and plenty of cheering. “Besides the birth of my own children, it was the most beautiful thing I’ve ever witnessed,” says Chad.

Ever since that day, she's walked into school by herself, head held high. “Roe Roe taught us to climb that mountain by showing us how to be brave and face fears,” says Chad, adding, “Most of us will never meet our heroes - I get to have dinner with mine every night.”