PITTSBURG — Inspired by young cancer patients and the hospital that cared for him, 15-year-old Ethan Weidert is leading a blood drive set for Tuesday and Wednesday next week.
The blood drive will be from noon to 6 p.m. on Tuesday and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Wednesday at the Pittsburg Area Chamber of Commerce. Donors can walk-in or schedule an appointment by contacting Ethan at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Weidert was taken to the doctor's office after feeling a lump on his throat. The lump turned out to be Hodgkin’s Lymphoma which is caused when cells in the lymphatic system grow abnormally and may spread beyond the lymphatic system.
His father, Heath Weidert said he took his son to Children’s Mercy right away, where Ethan received his diagnosis.
“We didn’t know anything about Hodgkin’s Lymphoma,” Heath said.
The family learned about lymph nodes and found out they were located in different parts of the body and help fight infections.
Ethan and his family learned it wasn’t just his neck affected.
“When they did the x-rays his chest lit up like a Christmas tree,” Heath said.
Ethan received chemotherapy to fight the disease. He has been in remission for 15 months — back to playing football, baseball, and powerlifting.
Ethan and Heath said while at Children’s Mercy they saw young children riding around the halls on tricycles.
“I can’t imagine what they are going through,” Heath said.
“Most don’t know what is going on,” Ethan said. “They just know they are getting poked and prodded.”
Heath nodded in agreement.
“It is very humbling,” Heath added.
Heath said many of the children there needed blood transfusions and Ethan was lucky he did not, because most of the labels on the medications ended with the suffix “toxic” which can cause the need for a blood transfusion.
Ethan said his medication killed anything that grows quickly, which is why he lost his hair and had to wear masks in case of infections.
Ethan said he would like to go back to Children’s Mercy and visit with the patients.
“I would like to go up there and talk to families,” he said. “I want to let them know they can get past this and to keep their hopes up.”
— Stephanie Potter is a staff writer at the Morning Sun. She can be emailed at email@example.com or follow her on Twitter @PittStephP and Instagram @stephanie_morningsun.