Family, community coming together to help young child battle illness
By DIANE GASPER-O'BRIEN
Learning someone in your family has cancer can be overwhelming.
That's the same word Mitch Weber used to describe the support his family has received since his young grandson was diagnosed with liver cancer approximately a week ago.
Weber, a digital imaging specialist at Fort Hays State University, said he is "overwhelmed" while trying to absorb the impact of Kayden's Kampaign, a fundraising effort to help his daughter and her young family in the coming days, weeks and months.
"We go through our lives taking everything for granted," Weber said. "Then something like this happens, and you have all these people supporting you, even from people we don't even know. I can't describe it, how much this all means to our family."
A month after celebrating his second birthday, Kayden Tiernan, son of Kerry and April Tiernan of Hays, started chemotherapy treatments this week in an effort to reduce the size of a large tumor in his liver.
Kayden turned 2 on Aug. 31, and a few weeks later, his mom -- a registered nurse -- noticed a hardening in his stomach. A local doctor checked him and immediately sent the Tiernans to Kansas City, where tests revealed the cancerous tumor.
Kayden's parents and other family members are with him as he undergoes treatment at Children's Mercy Hospital in the Kansas City area.
And a whole lot of folks back home are with them in spirit.
Ruth Ruder -- friend and co-worker of one of Kayden's aunts, Rachel Weber -- is spearheading a bake sale from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Friday at Golden Plains Credit Union, 2720 Broadway, Hays.
The sixth-grade Dominic Savio Club at Holy Family Elementary, where Kayden's mom and aunts and uncles attended grade school, have donated money to the cause as well.
And a benefit account also has been set up for Kayden at Golden Plains and can be sent to the bank at P.O. Box 99, Hays, KS 67601.
Kayden's older brother, 3 1/2-year-old Michael, is staying with Kerry's parents in Beloit. April and Kerry, a groundskeeper at Fort Hays Municipal Golf Course, are by their son's bedside 24-7, while April's mom, Julie Weber, is able to stay at the Ronald McDonald House in Kansas City.
"You know they exist," Mitch Weber said of the Ronald McDonald Houses. "But you don't realize how much they help until you or someone in your family uses it. It kind of blows you away."
Following chemo treatments, Kayden will need a liver transplant, and Mitch Weber said all the support will help his family deal with the situation at hand.
"So much support out there, in a lot of different ways," Weber said, adding many are offering prayers for Kayden. "There is so much going on, I can't keep up with it all."