One Daly Elementary School fifth grade student has had a rough start to his school year and the school is hosting a fundraising event on Oct. 4.
Blane Newman, 10, attended classes for three days this year before being diagnosed with Burkitts Lymphoma cancer – non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.
Amie Newman, Blane’s mom, said that this summer Blane had played just fine, was a healthy kid with no symptoms.
“At the beginning of July he had a stuffy nose and I was thinking allergies,” Newman said. “Then a lump appeared on the left side of his neck. It was small at first but about three weeks later I thought we should have it looked at. Thinking sinus infections, we did a week of antibiotics and allergy medicine but there was no change.”
They did an ultrasound and CT scan that came back normal and did more rounds of antibiotics. Newman said Blane spent two weeks at his dad’s and the lump was much larger when he returned.
“We went to an ENT (Ear, Nose, Throat specialist) in Missoula and the doctor said ‘swollen adenoids’ and sent him to Community Medical for a biopsy,” she said. “That was Thursday. On Monday I got a call and the ENT said ‘It’s lymphoma, go to the ER now.’ We packed up and I put my 15-year-old daughter with friends, and I drove my son to Spokane.”
Newman said they are receiving good care at Providence Sacred Heart Children’s Hospital, and between treatments they can go to her brother’s home 30 minutes away.
“These are great people who know what they are doing,” she said. “They didn’t take a lump out – he had a lump biopsy. We did extra tests including a PET scan that they inject a radioactive fluid to pick up all cancer cells. It is in his tonsils and neck. They do not cut it out; they just give chemotherapy to take it away.”
Newman said her son had a significant positive response to the first treatment.
“We are lucky and he’s done really well,” she said. “They have to give medicine in the spine too and they call those lumbar punctures. They put him to sleep for those and they inject chemo in his spine and up to his brain.”
The Newman’s have had some issues with the Montana Healthy Kids paying for medical treatment in Washington.
“We are out of network and they denied it, then said okay, and now are denying it again,” Newman said. “They were going to send us to Kalispell. But as a mom, when you know you’re getting the best care out there, and Kalispell being a new hospital for that type of thing I just … We are now on Idaho Medicaid just to keep him here.”
She said that at first her son was upset to be missing school and worried about getting behind.
“But now there has been so much going on he hasn’t mentioned it,” she said. “The hospital will help you set up tutors, so a tutor will come and give Blane the schooling he needs. There’s also a school in the hospital using your own school’s curriculum or theirs.”
Blane will start doing school work next week, plus they will visit the musicians, artists and other programs the hospital has to keep children busy throughout the day.
Newman said the length of hospital stay depends on how Blane’s body handles further treatments.
“We hope in five to six months he’ll out of the woods and healthy,” she said. “I don’t know what that will look like, but we’re hoping he’ll be all better. There is a 90 percent cure rate.”
Newman described her son as kind, giving and helpful. This summer he was part of the Bitterroot Swim Team ,and even though swimming isn’t his favorite, he did well and competed at the state tournament.
“The swim team has been extremely supportive of us and they are such a great family,” she said. “They teach good values and taught him strong swimming skills. He had just joined cross country and got two practices in before he had this."
She added that Blane likes to run and ride his bike, play Minecraft and draw.
"He’s a great kid.”
Daly Elementary Principal Nate Lant said Blane Newman attended at Daly for his fourth grade year with teacher Kathy Dickemore, and students and staff know him well.
“As a school we wanted to rally behind the family and behind Blane, just to let him know that we love and support him and want to see him battle this thing and overcome it,” Lant said. “We’re letting our students be aware of what is going on from the life-lessons aspect. We want to team up and support one of our own in something that has changed the course of his life.”
The school keeps in touch with the family and is raising funds to ease the financial burden so his family can focus on taking care of Blane. The school has ordered “Battling with Blane” bracelets and t-shirt that will be for sale.
“Hopefully we’ll lift up his spirits with encouragement that we’re all with him and for him and we’re trying to truck through this thing together,” Lant said. “From the financial side we want to ease whatever burdens we can with the fundraising.”
Daly staff members are coordinating a spaghetti feed and a night of entertainment from 6 to 8 p.m. on Oct. 4 in the Interstate Building at the fairgrounds. The spaghetti feed will cost $5 per person or $30 for a family.
Live entertainment is by Max Naidl, who is going to tap dance, and Finn Kemp who will fiddle. he band Sweetgrass also will play. Silent and live auction items include a live painting by Troy Collins, a scenic airplane ride, an airplane ride to the Moose Creek cabin in the wilderness for a two-night stay, Griz tickets and Griz packages.
“It’s a team effort and everyone is trying to chip in,” Lant said. “We don’t know when he’ll come back we know he has four to six months of treatment, which is a pretty significant thing for a young fellow like him.”
Jesse Newman, Blane's dad, declined to comment.
Amy Newman said she is amazed at the outpouring of support from the Hamilton community and Daly school.
“I couldn’t be more blessed,” she said. “I’m speechless about it and there are so many people out there that are worse off. I’m usually a person who gives, not takes. It warms my heart and makes me feel good. I’m very, very grateful.”