Ethan Weiman was diagnosed with a form of childhood cancer called neuroblastoma in July 2007. Ethan fought an amazing battle for 2 years. Ethan’s cancer was treated primarily at St. Louis Children Hospital, where he underwent several rounds of chemotherapy, surgeries to place central lines and remove tumors, a stem cell transplant followed by isolation, and radiation. The treatment also required hospital visits for scans, checkups, labs, and treatment of infections. During his initial hospital stay, a combination of watching the movie “Dreamer” and losing his hair prompted Ethan to ask for a cowboy hat.
Ethan was a trooper throughout all of this treatment. He took the nausea, pain, medicine, and time away from home in stride. He made many friends at the hospital, but also knew how to let the doctors know that he was in charge. Ethan’s love of all things cowboy continued to grow. He got boots, western shirts, and a belt buckle that he wore daily. He began to hint that he’d like to have a horse for his Make A Wish.
Ethan was declared disease-free in May 2008, but the disease resurfaced by August. August was consumed by a barn raising effort and a journey to Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, which specializes in NB research. Ethan’s horse, Sodador, was waiting to greet him after the first Philadelphia trip. Ethan and Sonador became immediate friends. Ethan liked to go on trail rides, feed him horse treats, and play him songs on his harmonica. Ethan eventually traded his red cowboy hat for a black one, which he wore with pride.
Shortly after, Ethan returned to Philadelphia for radioactive injection treatments that involved several days in isolation. These treatments kept the disease in check for a while, but it continued to spread. Ethan returned to St Louis for multiple drugs that were highly experimental and offered limited hope.
A family trip to Fort Worth, TX in February 2009 fulfilled another wish for Ethan. Ethan got to stay in a cabin, go to rodeos, take train rides, see lots of wild animals, ride a longhorn, and see lots of cowboys. In spite of the treatments and his positive attitude, Ethan’s cancer continued to spread. In June, 2009, Ethan went home to heaven.
Ethan’s Rodeo is a celebration of the cowboy spirit and our way of continuing the fight against neuroblastoma. All proceeds from Ethan’s Rodeo will be donated to research of neuroblastoma, which is responsible for approximately 15% of all childhood cancer deaths. The treatment of this disease currently involves harsh doses of drugs with severe side effects and marginal results. Our goal is to fund research that will increase survival rates and offer treatments with more tolerable side effects.