Marching for hope in the fight against childhood cancer: Ethan’s story
Ethan was a happy and healthy 13-year-old who loved football and soccer. But about a year-and-a-half ago, Ethan’s parents knew something was not right with him. Ethan began to experience incredible pain in his hip, and so they began the daunting search to try and find answers to what was causing his pain. Life quickly became a flurry of emergency room visits, tests, nurses, doctors, needles, ambulance rides - all while their other kids were still at home. Ethan and his parents were sent to Arnold Palmer Hospital for Children to meet with the pediatric oncology team.
It was then that Ethan’s parents were told what no parent wants to hear. Ethan had cancer.
He was diagnosed in 2013 with Ewing’s Sarcoma, a very rare form of cancer that develops inside one’s bones. It affects less than three percent of children. When Ethan was first diagnosed, the oncology team gave his parents a roadmap; a plan that outlined what Ethan’s medical journey would look like for the next 9 to 12 months. Life for Ethan and his family changed forever in an instant!
Looking back on this time, Ethan’s parents said, “Despite our fears and questions of the unknown, the oncology team was with us every step of the way. They encouraged us, sat with us, answered our questions and most importantly, gave us hope.” Ethan went through several rounds of intensive chemotherapy, surgery and more chemo to give his body the best possible opportunity to heal.
For several months following his treatment, Ethan showed “No Evidence of Disease” meaning he had no cancer cells in his body. But at the end of July, 2014 Ethan and his parents learned he had MDS, which is a precursor to Leukemia. While waiting for the next course of treatment, Ethan’s diagnosis had progressed and his family was told that he had developed AML, Acute Myeloid Leukemia. To fight against the cancer progressing any further, Ethan had to undergo a bone marrow transplant.
Despite our comprehensive oncology care, Arnold Palmer Hospital did not have the program Ethan needed to give him the best possible outcome, yet. Ethan and his parents had to temporarily relocate to St. Petersburg to receive treatment at another hospital. For Ethan’s family, this meant incurring significant time away from friends, family and their support system. They also had to be separated from their daughters, so that they can continue to stay in school.
While preparing to leave, Ethan said, "I will miss my sisters, my friends and my doctor and nurses while I'm away because they know me. I know they want what's best for me, but it will be hard to be away.” Ethan and his parents were away for over two months while receiving the treatment Ethan needed to survive. Ethan’s journey is still playing out, and our team at Arnold Palmer Hospital hopes that one day soon, bone marrow transplants will happen within our hospital walls so that children, like Ethan, do not have leave the comforts of being close to home to receive additional treatment.
You can help kids like Ethan. This year, for the third year in a row, we are marching against children’s cancer. And we need your help! Your support of Arnie’s March Against Children's Cancer can make a big impact by raising much-needed funds for the Center for Children’s Cancer and Blood Disorders at Arnold Palmer Hospital, to help ensure that our patients and families can receive the treatment and support they need close to home while battling cancer. March with us out at Arnold Palmer’s Bay Hill Club & Lodge on March 17 or show your support by making a donation to help support the families affected by childhood cancer in Central Florida.
For more information and to become a supporter, visit ArniesMarch.com