MONTVILLE, NJ – When your child gets a fever, you want them to feel better soon. When it doesn’t go away for a week, you’re concerned. But when the third doctor you’ve taken your child to says to go to the emergency room – it’s probably time to get worried.
This was the experience Hannah and Brian Cho went through when their ten-year-old son Ian had a fever for more than a week last November.
“Tylenol would work sometimes, but sometimes not, and his belly was inflated,” Ian’s father Brian told TAPinto Montville.
After the couple took Ian to Hackensack University Medical Center, blood testing revealed the startling results: Ian had leukemia.
“Our family had no cancer before this, so we were kind of shocked,” Brian said. “They asked us and we had no history.”
Ian underwent chemo for 10 days, inpatient, was discharged, and then repeated the strong chemo, to see how his body responded to the drugs, Brian said. While at home, he takes several types of medicines as well. Currently he is inter-changing a stronger chemo drug which requires a four-day hospital stay due to its side effects with a simpler chemo drug that is administered outpatient.
“It has been an extremely difficult time for Ian and my family both physically and mentally especially in the beginning,” Ian’s mother Hannah wrote on social media. “But Ian and my family are getting better and stronger with all of your help.”
Ian is a fifth grader at Valley View Elementary School, and initially the Cho family told only Principal Patricia Kennedy because Ian couldn’t attend school, Brian said. But friends and parents kept inquiring about playdates and such, and he and Hannah realized that they couldn’t keep the secret for long, especially because doctors warned the couple that the chemotherapy would be a 3-1/2-year process.
“We slowly opened up,” Brian said. “The PTA sent a lot of cards and gift cards and when it went onto social media, many people contacted us and wanted to help.”
Montville Police Captain Carlo Marucci was Ian’s brother Ethan’s soccer coach and after the fundraiser last year for Frankie Chioccariello, his wife Kristen said that the couple wanted to do a fundraiser every year for a family in need.
Within the schools, there has been a pick-up dinner fundraiser and a bracelet sale fundraiser, and on May 2, the Police PBA Local #140 is sponsoring a beefsteak dinner and tricky tray for the family.
“The Chos don’t have family here – so Montville is their family,” Kristen Marucci said. “My heart goes out to them as their medical bills are mounting.”
Brian said that they feel very lucky to have so much support.
“We are Asian and we are not familiar with the culture here although we’ve been here 20 years and in Montville for six,” Brian said. “People trying to help us with this is something we never saw or imagined in our country. It’s not like people don’t help others there, but this country is so much more open and people who don’t even know us are helping us and it’s really touched us. Every time we have come home from the hospital, we find packages on the stoop, and parents and school classmates are sending cards to Ian. They put smiles on his face.”
“Words cannot describe how thankful we are, but I still want to thank everyone for all the texts, calls, so many cards, gifts, visits, and prayers,” Hannah wrote. “Especially I want to give a big thank you to the parent who took care of Ethan after school for days when we are not available at home and also to Montville PBA Local #140 for helping us in many ways. It all helps and constantly brings a big smile to Ian’s face.
“All of the words of encouragement, strength and messages have helped Ian and of course my family so much. We are truly, truly blessed and so grateful to be surrounded by so many wonderful people in Montville NJ. I am sure we will make a big smile at the end of the long tunnel. Thanks all.”
If you would like to attend the May 2 beefsteak/tricky tray fundraiser, tickets are still available. Contact Kristen Marucci at 201-919-7907 or email@example.com, or go to the Montville Township Police Department at 360 Main Road in Montville.
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