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Release of Likeness

“We never thought we would be walking this cancer path, but thanks to blood donors who helped keep our son, Ike, alive we have a good chance of beating this thing.” —Chelsea Yarmon

Fever and ear pain. A stubborn rash that wouldn’t go away. Then tests indicating low hemoglobin levels and a declining white blood cell count. For parents Chelsea and Chad, they knew going into the ER with their young son, Ike, that something wasn’t right. What they didn’t expect was to hear the words, “your child has cancer”.

Just three days shy of his fifth birthday, Ike was diagnosed with B-ALL leukemia, a fast-growing cancer of lymphocyte-forming cells typically found in the blood stream and bone marrow. And from that moment on, Ike and his parents went into action. Ike received his first blood transfusion while still in the hospital, and regular transfusions helped sustain him as he endured months of chemotherapy treatments. At the end of year one, Ike’s cancer is still present with each pill and doctor’s appointment serving as a reminder of his daily fight against this widespread type of childhood cancer. Despite the rigor of his ‘maintenance’ routine—a spinal tap every three months, a monthly trip to the clinic for lab tests, a weekly dose of eight chemotherapy pills, plus another nightly dose of pills as well—Ike is back to playing hockey and baseball, spending time with his family, and practicing his golf game in anticipation of his family’s annual Tough Like Ike Golf and Silent Auction event.

“Ike’s diagnosis has been life-changing for all of us,” mom Chelsea said. “Through it all, he has been incredibly strong and resilient—and tough. That’s why we came together almost immediately as a community of friends and family and began blogging, fundraising, and hosting blood drives and other Tough Like Ike events. We want to honor Ike’s toughness, to raise awareness of the need for more research into childhood cancers, and to give back in gratitude for all the generous blood donors who were there with the blood Ike needed to survive.”

Doctors have given Ike a goal of finishing treatment by July 2016. In the meantime, Ike’s family is determined to continue to make a difference, including advocating for the cause of blood donation.

“We never thought we would be walking this cancer path,” Chelsea added, “but thanks to blood donors who helped keep our son alive we have a good chance of beating this thing. Now we are even more motivated to give blood because we see how it affects patients like our son. And we are humbled that others—like Ike's teachers and classmates at Hassan Elementary—have joined with us to host a blood drive to help our cause. I hope that anyone who is eligible to give blood will do all they can. It takes so little time to donate, and you never know when you or a loved one could be in need of blood.”

Find out more about how you can help save the lives of infants, children, and adults through blood donation. Learn more at About Blood.