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Community comes together to help Rigby boy diagnosed with leukemia


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Ian Reese. | Courtesy Tree Reese

IDAHO FALLS — All it took was then-3-year-old Ian Reese bumping his shoulder for doctors to discover what no parent wants to hear about their child.

During the summer, Ian was extremely tired and kept bruising, but his parents didn’t think anything was wrong. Scratches, scrapes and bruises come with being a young boy, after all.

But in July, the Reese family realized there was more to it. He was jumping on his parent’s bed and bumped his shoulder. He immediately cried.

“Two days later, I hugged him, and he was still crying and saying that it hurt when I hugged him,” said Tree Reese, Ian’s mom.

When her husband, Eric, got home from work that night, they went to get an X-ray. Once they arrived, the doctor’s noticed his color was off, and they decided to do a complete blood count. Thinking it was fractured and nothing more, Tree left for her other children’s soccer game.

She hadn’t even arrived at the school when she received a call from the doctor’s office.

“They needed to retest because they had ran it (complete blood count) four times and the numbers were really low,” Tree said. “They thought their machine might not be working right, so they wanted us to go to EIRMC.”

Tree said what happened next was a blur.

“I think they kind of already knew,” Tree said. “But they couldn’t tell us over the phone.”

They arrived at the emergency room, and once they were taken back, Tree said things moved fast. After about an hour, the head nurse came in and explained what they were seeing was consistent with leukemia. He needed to get down to Primary Children’s Hospital in Salt Lake City as soon as possible.

He wasn’t stable enough to ride in an ambulance, so Tree and Ian were flown to the hospital, where they arrived at 1 a.m. Eric drove through the night to meet them there.

“It still really didn’t hit me,” Tree said. “It just happened so, so fast.”

Courtesy Tree Reese

Doctors diagnosed Ian with childhood acute lymphoblastic leukemia on July 18, four days before his fourth birthday. He had surgery to have a port put in to receive medications. He spent six days in the hospital and was told it would be a two-and-a-half to three-year battle.

Since then, Ian has had five blood transfusions. He’s also tested positive for parainfluenza (a respiratory infection) for four weeks now. Doctors didn’t want to give him antibiotics because it interferes with the process, but after three and a half weeks, they had no choice but to start Ian on them.

“Throughout it all, Ian just smiles,” Tree said. “He’s what’s helping me get through it.”

Not only are Eric and Tree trying to care for Ian, but they have five other kids, including a 13-year-old who has autism and has been deaf for four years. They are also self-employed. Eric does construction, which Tree said can be difficult in the winter months.

To alleviate the financial burden that comes with needed treatment and traveling to Utah, their neighbor’s sons, Christian and Christopher Parrett, started a GoFundMe account. Christopher and his wife, Lauren, gave up what was supposed to be a New Year’s Eve surprise trip for Lauren to Disney World. They’re now putting that money towards Ian.

“Seeing the disparity between the kid who you know as such a happy, friendly kid to going through something you wouldn’t wish upon anybody is heartbreaking,” Christian said.

But despite Ian’s challenges, “he never gives up,” Tree said.

“He’s strong and resilient. No matter how dark the days seem, he keeps going,” Tree said. “There will be a light at the end soon. But right now, we fight and get him better.”

Courtesy Tree Reese

Our attorneys tell us we need to put this disclaimer in stories involving fundraisers: does not assure that the money deposited to the account will be applied for the benefit of the persons named as beneficiaries.