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Neenah family holds out hope through tragedy

Chance Van Stippen
Van Stippen family house fire
Posted at 7:08 PM, Oct 13, 2022
and last updated 2022-10-14 12:05:18-04

NEENAH (NBC 26) — “When it rains, it pours.” That’s how the Van Stippens, of Neenah, described the last few months of their life.

“It's just a scary journey that I... quite frankly don't want to go on. But I don't have a choice,” said Shayla Van Stippen, Chance’s mother.

In early September, Shayla Van Stippen and Dakota Washkuhn’s thirteen-year-old son, Chance, came home from school sick.

“We had gone to pick up his brother from his first day of 4k. And he wanted to walk up to the school and grab him with us. And the minute you try to get out of the vehicle, he's like, Mom, I have to stay here I'm gonna puke,” said Van Stippen.

It was a symptom that parents might not be worried about, but Chance couldn't shake this illness.

“Every day he was complaining of a headache, and then he was sleeping nonstop. And then it was nausea and vomiting. But there was never a fever involved in it. So that's what kind of threw the doctors for a loop,” said Van Stippen.

Things progressed quickly after that.

“His doctor broke the news that they had found a four inch in diameter tumor in his brain,” said Van Stippen.

Chance went from a nausea spell to brain cancer in just a few short weeks.

“They said it would have been growing there for a couple years. And he said that he started getting the symptoms because of how big it was,” said Van Stippen.

Just when the Van Stippen’s thought they couldn’t handle any more, tragedy struck again. Earlier this week, the family lost their home to a fire.

“There was nothing that we could do. We had to wait for the fire trucks and everybody to come in. By that time all the windows in the house had blown out. You couldn't see inside the house. All you could see was the flames and then very thick black smoke,” said Van Stippen.

In about a month, the family’s entire world has been turned upside down, twice.

“Just the cancer was enough to balance… and then the fire on top of it,” said Van Stippen.

Even when tragedy struck twice, the Van Stippens were not going to give up.

“We still have a fighting chance to move forward,” said Van Stippen.

They told us the community rallied to help their family.

“All of us are very appreciative of all the donations, support, the prayers, the thoughts. Everything means a lot to us,” said Washkuhn.

The outpour of help and support they’ve received over the last few weeks has changed something in these parents.

“Once we are in the position to give back, we are going to be giving back for the rest of our lives because of the support we’ve gotten,” said Van Stippen.

“I would like to work for the Red Cross and help with hurricanes, and disasters,” said Washkuhn.

But getting them through these tragedies the most is the strength shown by their son Chance.

“You're stronger than I could ever be,” said Van Stippen.

After Chance’s most recent surgery things started to look up for the Van Stippens. Chance wanted to resume an old hobby: video games.

“Oh, it was the best thing ever. I was like, I absolutely will play video games with you. I hate video games. But I was like, you want to play a video game. I'm on it,” said Van Stippen.

With more battles ahead, they are holding out hope for their Chance to get through this.

You can donate to Chance's Gofundme here and the house fire Gofundme here.