When little Roman Statt was born, he was a happy and healthy little boy.
Everything changed in August.
"His daycare lady noticed he was bruising more than he was falling. I noticed spots on his legs, so I thought and it was an allergic reaction and took him to the doctor. They rushed us straight to Strong. A couple days later they diagnosed him with AML leukemia," said Roman's mother, Darcy Eichas-Statt.
Roman's leukemia is very rare and doctors rushed to start treatment right away.
"It's intensive chemotherapy," said Kevin Statt, Roman's father. "He's had 45 chemo treatments so far and there's quite a bit to go, but he's responding amazing. He doesn't know he's sick."
Roman is doing so well, he's able to be home. That means that Mom helps with meds and some procedures, and a nurse comes every week.
It is a team effort here and one that will continue with Roman's little brother, who is expected to come into the world in January. Roman's doctors suggested Darcy bank her future son's umbilical cord blood in case Roman one day needs a transplant. There's a one in four chance his brother will be a match.
"The umbilical cord is very rich in blood-forming cells," said Dr. Razia Akhtar, Roman's pediatric oncologist. "And we recommend cord banking, especially in this situation, just in case chemotherapy is not successful in Roman, we'd go towards transplantation. And stem cell transplantation is taking someone's healthy bone marrow and blood-forming cells and replacing Roman's unhealthy bone marrow cells. And the best way to match someone like a solid organ transplantation is through a sibling."
The umbilical cord blood is taken right at birth and doesn't affect the baby at all. Doctors recommend parents think about donating that cord blood to a public bank where anyone who is a match and might one day need it, can use it.
Some families choose to privately bank the cord blood. That's what Roman's family needs to do. But that costs money – just one more reason why family and friends are coming together to help.
"This is something we never thought we'd be going through. Your family, the next door neighbor's family... you never know when it'll hit you," said Julie Eichas, Roman's grandmother.
Julie and friends are organizing a fundraiser coming up this weekend. There are others scheduled in the coming months. All of it in an effort to help this family not think about money, but about helping making this little boy better.
"We try not to think too much into the immediate future because it's still pretty unknown and scary but we've come so far already that we're really looking forward to having two little boys running around our house a year from now," said Darcy.
That first fundraiser is Saturday, Oct. 12 at Tackles on the Bay, 372 Manitou Rd. in Hilton. It runs from noon to 5 p.m.
For more information on this fundraiser or others, click here.