Silver Bay boy battles cancer on all frontsA Silver Bay family is paying it forward at this year's Relay for Life.
By: Brittany Berrens, Lake County News Chronicle
A Silver Bay family is paying it forward at this year's Relay for Life. After battling cancer, 10-year-old Ethan Jackson is joining his mom, Amanda, and a team of friends and family to raise money for the American Cancer Society, an organization that served as a helpful and supportive tool for the family while Ethan was undergoing treatment.
During scary and uncertain times, Amanda said information from the Society served as a glimmer of hope and solid information. "It consumes your life," she said of the cancer her son fought.
Ethan was diagnosed with Rhabdomyosarcoma last November. It's a form of cancer that grows anywhere in the soft tissues of the body. It's the most common type of soft-tissue cancer that occurs in children. What started as a small growth under Ethan’s left eye rapidly grew into tumor more than three centimeters long. Ethan went from a normal, healthy kid to a cancer patient in two weeks.
He underwent surgery to remove the tumor. Six months of chemotherapy and four weeks of cutting-edge proton therapy in Houston followed. Ethan finished treatments in May and is now in remission.
Seeing Ethan today, it's hard to believe that he ever had such an illness. The kid has spunk. Like many boys, he likes "Star Wars," video games, and Legos and has lots of energy. While he said cancer is "weird and scary," Ethan is pretty optimistic about where he’s at in life.
He likes his curly, blonde post-chemo hair better than the straight brown hair he had before treatment. And he says the cancer he battled, Rhabdomyosarcoma, "sounds like a dinosaur name."
The biggest disappointment for Ethan seemed to be that he will have to continue to have tests done for the next 10 years to make sure the cancer does not come back. In his mind, he’s got bigger fish to fry. After he calculated how old he will be in 10 years, he said “I’ll have a girlfriend by then." He’s also a little concerned that the tests will get in the way of him becoming an Army general.
Ethan’s biggest challenge right now is finishing the school work he missed last year, effectively ruining his summer break. “Have you ever missed a summer break?" he asked his mom.
"No," she said.
"Exactly," he said.
His optimism and energy is hard to ignore, something his mom was grateful for while he was going through treatment. "He was really brave through everything," Amanda said. "That really helped me."
The Jacksons also had the support of the North Shore community. Two fundraisers while Ethan was in treatment raised money to help cover unpaid medical expenses, something Amanda says she is grateful for and humbled by.
Ethan, Amanda, and their Relay for Life team of 13 friends and family members have been raising money since May to give to the American Cancer Society. They’ve been selling luminary bags, white paper bags that are decorated in honor of a cancer survivor or in memory of loved ones who lost a battle with cancer. They bags are filled with sand and are lit up with candles during the Relay event.
Their fundraising has also been connected with the sudden increase in the lawn gnome population in Silver Bay. Called "Gnome More Cancer," Ethan and his mom have been secretly placing gnomes in the yards of Silve" Bay residents. For $10, they can have the lawn decorations removed from their yard and put onto a lawn of their choice. So far they’ve raised more than $400 from the sneaky fundraiser, and Ethan says they’ve been caught once.
So far, Team Ethan has raised at least $715 for the Relay for Life event, with a goal of reaching $1,000. All the money will go to the American Cancer society to find cancer cures, help people get treatment, and get information out to those who are battling cancer.
This year’s Relay for Life begins at 6 p.m. next Friday (Aug. 12) at the Lake Bank Center Square in Silver Bay. It starts at 6 p.m. and will continue for 12 hours. The goal of the event is to have at least one member of each team walking around the track for the entire 12 hours.
It’s a way for survivors to get together and celebrate beating the illness and serves as a way for loved ones to remember those who lost the battle with cancer.
For more information on the Aug. 12 Silver Bay Relay for Life event, or to donate money to any of the participating teams, visit www.Relay ForLife.org/silverbaymn or call Laurie Danielson at 226-4576.