By Julie Samrick
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Mother of two Kristen Rogers had grown accustomed to seeing the ugly side of human nature. Time and again the El Dorado Hills resident said she asked, “What is happening in this world?” as she saw negative stories splashed on the evening news.
But since her 8-year-old son Shane was diagnosed with leukemia on July 26, the kindnesses she’s seen from her neighbors, many of whom are complete strangers, has strengthened her resolve that the vast majority of people are good.
The severe back pain young Shane suffered during a family reunion this past summer prompted his parents, Sean and Kristen, to take him to the doctor. The diagnosis of leukemia was “a punch in the stomach — a nightmare we still can’t believe we’re living each day,” said Kristen. Shane has acute lymphocytic leukemia, cancer of the white blood cells that is characterized by excess lymphoblasts overcrowding the bone marrow. While the overall cure rate in children is 80 percent, the course of treatment is grueling. The Rogers expect Shane will have to fight for roughly three years before he’s considered in remission.
Immediately after the diagnosis, Shane was transferred to UC Davis to begin treatment, where in the first 30 days medications made him so weak the Silva Valley third grader couldn’t even lift his head let alone walk. Today his body is stronger, but his next tough course of treatment begins this week.
A group of El Dorado Hills moms quickly sprang into action after learning about Shane. Many are Silva Valley families, but just as many are strangers. It’s this support that has kept Kristen and her family humming.“We’ve had dinner brought over nearly every night since Shane’s diagnosis,” said Kristen.
A family friendly fundraiser and blood drive were held at Fire Station 85 on Oct. 29. “I will never forget all the little kids who brought their entire piggy banks to donate,” the grateful mom said.
Carla Gomann has been one of the moms to step up to organize, and she’s gladly done so. “There really isn’t one person in charge. We’re just a group of moms who barely know each other, but we’re here to lift up Shane and his family,” Gomann explained. “We all know it could easily be any one of us. How could we not help?”
The fundraisers help offset the steep costs the Rogers family has already incurred, added Gomann. Leap Yoga in Folsom held packed yoga classes. West Coast Martial Arts hosted a self-defense class for upwards of 50 women. At the blood drive, 70 pints of blood were collected. “Some people waited an hour to donate,” said Gomann. Without much notice or preparation, numerous local businesses donated food, water and their time as well.
Blood Source in Folsom will continue to collect blood in Shane’s name. His account is No. 0474, which gives a monetary credit for any future blood transfusions he may have to have. He’s already had three.
Even if Shane doesn’t need another transfusion, Kristen looks forward to the day “when we can pay it forward,” she said, starting with others who need blood now. “We have all learned so much through all of this,” she explained. “We are teaching our kids the importance of donating blood, for one thing.” Shane also now sees losing his hair as a badge of honor.
“These past three months have been so exhausting,” said Kristen. “Besides the physical effects of Shane’s small body so weakened, it’s the thinking and constant worry … next up are the 50 possible side effects that could come with the next treatment. Yet, this community is carrying us through it.”
Shane is eager to get back to soccer and flag football and outdoor activities like fishing and camping. He is home-schooled for now, and misses his school friends but finds comfort being with his little sister and “best buddy” Reese, 3. It also helps that his instructor from West Coast Martial Arts gives him private lessons.
Prayers for Shane and positive thoughts are what the family want most of all. They said they believe this experience will allow Shane to learn and do great things for others.
Kristen often says, “We’re not going to let this disease get the best of us. We’ll make the most of it.”
To stay updated on Shane’s progress like the “Shane’s Village” Facebook page.