Missoula Boy Cancer-Free After Being Diagnosed at Age 3
One Montana 9-year-old is healthy and strong, after doctors diagnosed him with a rare cancer at age 3 and removed one of his kidneys.
NBC Montana says each morning, Michael Schermerhorn makes sure he's ready for his favorite things about fourth grade. "Math and probably recess," he explained.
Doctors recently declared Michael cancer-free, but when the initial diagnosis came, his parents didn't know where to turn.
"We were new to the community, didn't know anybody, didn't know where we were going to get help," said J.J. Shermerhorn.
The family found help through the Jadyn Fred Foundation in Missoula, formed after Jadyn died of cancer in 2001.
"We can move into a family's life and try and provide some assistance in ways that insurance just can't," said Britt Fred.
"If it wasn't for the foundation, I don't know where the travel costs would have come from. I don't know where Christmas would have come from. Not that Michael being alive isn't gift enough -- it is -- but you think about those things in the happy heart of a kid," said Shermerhorn.
"We provide gifts to these families that otherwise may not have a very pleasant Christmas. Santa Claus is there. That's when we may see the kids completely forget for a moment that they are in the midst of the battle. They can find peace in knowing that others care about them," added Fred.
Michael showed NBC Montana a brightly colored guitar and said, "When I was about 5 or 6, I got this guitar, and I still have it when I'm 9."
Michael seems to find even more joy when he gives to others.
"I think after the chemo treatments and being in the hospital watching other kids being in worse shape than he was, he developed this care in him that he always looks to somebody else first. He is the one who will walk into a room of 100 people and find the one person who feels left out," said Shermerhorn.
To other children battling cancer, Michael says, "Good luck, believe in the love of your family and believe in the medicines you are being given."
Shermerhorn is a manager at Famous Dave's, which is providing the meals for more than 200 people at this year's Christmas party for the families the Jadyn Fred Foundation is reaching out to. It's coming up Wednesday, Dec 16. The foundation could still use help filling out the kids' lists of holiday wishes this year.
Click here to contact the Jadyn Fred Foundation.