Charles Esten's painful path through daughter's cancer

His baby girl was weak, and she had little red dots on her body.

Doctors at highly-esteemed Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles ran bunches of tests before pulling actor Charles “Chip” Esten out his 2-year-old daughter Addie’s hospital room.


Esten heard the doctor say his 2-year-old daughter had an 85 percent of survival, but still, the diagnosis knocked him sideways.

“You feel very powerless,” he said. “It was terrifying.”

Esten went back into the room and quietly led his wife, Patty, into the hallway to share the news.

“We collapsed into each other for a minute and a half, and then we wiped our eyes and walked back into the room.”

Fourteen years later, Addie is just fine, even earning a most valuable defensive soccer player award this year from her Middle Tennessee school district.

And her dad — who plays tortured singer/songwriter Deacon on TV’s “Nashville” — is getting ready to lead a third annual fundraiser walk and concert here to battle leukemia and other blood cancers.

But it was a tough path to get there.

Addie never needed a transplant, but she had infections from chemo, infections that gave her heart problems serious enough to land her in the pediatric intensive care unit.

“People ask, ‘How do you get through that?’ And I say, 'What’s the alternative?’” Esten said. “We were not without our share of bad days.”

Addie was in remission after a few months, but she got tested annually for 10 years before doctors declared she was out of danger.

Shortly afterward, Esten felt he needed to celebrate Addie’s survival by raising money and awareness to look for cures for blood cancers.

Esten is now national chairman for the annual Light the Night Walks held across the country. The Nashville event happens Friday at Nissan Stadium.

Survivors carry white lanterns, supporters carry red lanterns and those honoring the memories of people killed by blood cancers carry yellow lanterns.

“Being on a Nashville bridge walking with all those survivors and supporters and those close to people who lost their battles — it seems miles from that terrifying, lonely diagnosis.”

Read more at The Tennessean

Back To News