Spirited 4-year-old gains strength following stem cell treatment

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Four year-old Davis McLarnon has had a tough childhood although he doesn’t complain.

In June of last year, when he was three years old, he was diagnosed with a cancerous brain tumor called medulloblastoma, which had also spread to his spine. Since then, he went through intense chemotherapy and stem cell transplantation at Boston Children’s Hospital, then more chemotherapy at Hasbro. He’s now in isolation at his house as his body reacts to the stem cell transplants and doctors see how he fares before a March 6 MRI.

“Our hope is that he’s been through the worst and he doesn’t remember any of this someday,” Davis’ mom Amanda said.

Amanda said that since he’s been released from the hospital Davis has had to be kept in isolation at their home in Warwick, with his only opportunities to get out being walks around the neighborhood when the weather is warm enough. She said that he’s currently in day 46 of a 60-day isolation that ends on February 26.

The reason the doctors chose to do a stem-cell transplant with his own stem-cells that they froze before the surgeries, she said, was to avoid radiation, because the after effects would have been extremely detrimental to his health.

“This was our hail Mary,” Amanda said.

They now await the MRI on March 6 to find out the state of the cancer in Davis’ body.

Meanwhile, she said, Davis has been getting stronger and stronger by the day.

“Every day he’s stronger and running around and climbing stairs by himself,” she said. “He’s always been a very energetic and spirited little boy. He’s back to himself. He’s ready for this isolation to be over so he can go nuts.”

After the surgery, she said, Davis “kind of forgot how to walk” because of the part of the brain that the tumor was in. He had to regain that physical ability before he started the rounds of chemotherapy again.

He was also weaker than his normal self, she said, because of all those months in the hospital, and she’s hoping that he’s able to regain his physical strength as he progresses out of this isolation.

The financial cost for surgeries, chemotherapy, stem-cell transplants, hospital visits, and physical therapy certainly add up. Amanda said the family doesn’t even know how much it’ll cost yet because the bills haven’t come in – not even for the tumor removal surgery – and they don’t know how much it will come out to be.

While her husband Barry has continued to work, Amanda took the year off from her job as a teacher to care for Davis, so they’ve also lost half of their combined salaries.

She said that because she’s from New York and her husband is from Ireland they have family and friends all around the world who have extended their support during this hardship. Her sister Brenda Ann started a Go Fund Me in Davis’ name that has raised more than $68,000. There was also a MonsterDash at Goddard Park in October that raised funds for their extensive medical bills.

Amanda said that they’ve “been ok” because of the generosity of family and friends, but they don’t really know how much they’ll need until the bills come.

St. Timothy’s Church, where the McLarnons are parishioners, is also fundraising for Davis through the “Monster Tough 4 Davis” event on February 22 at 6:00 p.m. at the Knights of Columbus Hall on Sandy Lane. Tickets are $25 and sponsorship opportunities are available for $100.

During the event, which Davis can’t attend because he’s still in isolation, there will be 20 raffle baskets, 10 silent auction items, and three regular auction items available to win/bid for.

Among the items up for auction that night will be two baskets of toys from Hasbro worth $500 and $600, respectively. There will also be plenty of valuable sports items, including a Jackie Bradley Jr. signed baseball, a Reggie Jackson signed baseball, a framed Tom Brady Super Bowl photo, and a Washington Capitals jersey, among others. Other items on deck include four tickets to Monster Jam at the Dunkin Donuts center, $300 of Dave’s Marketplace gift cards, an Amazon Echo, a 5-night stay at a resort in the Berkshires, and a number of gift certificates to restaurants around the area. A dinner with Pastor Andrew Messina and Deacon Ken Andrade at Sofia’s will also be available.

During the event, three PG-13 comedians will be there to entertain the crowd and there will also be a cash bar.

The church also raising funds at www.funny4funds.com under events – “Monster Tough 4 Davis” through cash/check donations to the church.

Davis has already been through extremely difficult times – which Amanda is hoping to be the worst he’ll have to face – and he continues to battle back from this cancer. While it has been a struggle, she said that she and her family are grateful for the support they’ve been given.

“We’re so grateful to be part of such an amazing community,” she said. “We appreciate the support from everyone.”

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