Surprising 'amazing' Virginia girl who doesn't think Santa is real

'We take it one day at a time, because you never know what a day might hold'
 Chloe Rochester
Posted at 9:48 AM, Dec 23, 2023
and last updated 2023-12-23 10:45:17-05

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. -- At first glance, you’d never know the strength that 4-year-old Chloe Rochester possesses. Shy at first, it doesn’t take long for her to win your heart, as she brings you along on her many adventures.

But even with eyes filled with magic, Chloe questions if Santa is real because despite having the innocence of a child, she’s been through a lot over the past year. Her parents say the experience has made her wise beyond her years.

Last winter, Chloe was singing in her family’s traveling Blue Grass gospel band when she began having terrible stomach pains.

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Thinking their daughter was suffering from appendicitis, the Rochester’s took Chloe to the University of Virginia Children’s Hospital and discovered her condition was much worse.

“She had a tumor on her kidney,” Angela Rochester said. “It was the size of a baseball and softball put together.”

Diagnosed with stage four Anaplastic Wilms Tumor in February 2023, Chloe has endured surgery to remove a kidney, twelve radiation treatments and two rounds of chemotherapy so far.

“We take it one day at a time, because you never know what a day might hold,” Rochester said. “Really, she’s done amazing with it.”

 Chloe Rochester
Chloe Rochester

Despite her treatments twice a week, Chloe still finds the strength to spread joy and laughter to her doctors and nurses. The week before Christmas, she was happily giving out presents in the Battle Building at University of Virginia Health-Children’s.

With her giggles, one-liners and quick wit, Chloe’s caregivers say they are continuously charmed by her and can’t believe her maturity level.

CBS Anchor Tracy Sears, and Photographer Ben Brady heard about Chloe through a friend’s Facebook post and decided as part of CBS 6 Gives, to surprise her with special gifts, including a doll house. They both dressed in “Buddy the Elf” outfits when they learned that Chloe loved elves and was asking for a pink elf outfit for Christmas.

Chloe Rochester
Chloe Rochester

“I love dollhouses,” Chloe exclaimed after seeing her present. “I might have to put a lot of stickers on it, which I’m going to let you do that job,” Chloe joked with her father.

While times are challenging now, Chloe says she’s excited for her future. This past week, she was given an honorary nurse’s pin. Chloe says she wants to be a nurse when she grows up so she can work at the hospital and care for other children.

 Chloe Rochester

Before leaving the hospital on Monday afternoon, Chloe tried on a knitted red hat that she found in a bin at the nurse’s station. “So, I can stay warm for winter,” she explained to Tracy. Whispering in her ear, Tracy asked if she thought Santa would like her red hat.

“Funny, very funny,” Chloe replied. “I still don’t think Santa is real.”

But where there’s no doubt, is that love is very real in Chloe’s world, and it surrounds her wherever she goes. When her treatments are finally over, Chloe hopes to spend more fun times with her family and hopefully visit Busch Gardens or Kings Dominion.

The CBS 6 Month of Giving made possible by Virginia Credit Union is underway. Watch for a new surprise every day in December on CBS 6 News at 6 a.m., 4 p.m., and 6 p.m. Have an idea about who we should surprise next, click here to email our team.