First responders give a lift to local boy fighting cancer

MARYSVILLE — Ethan Iverson turned 8 years old in April, but it’s uncertain if he’ll live to celebrate another birthday.

Iverson has cancer and on May 29 the Marysville Fire District and Marysville Police Department joined the community in helping to support Iverson and his family, by picking him up from his home, and taking him to a spaghetti feed and silent auction fundraiser in his honor at Sunnyside Elementary where Iverson has attended school.

Iverson received a certificate naming him an honorary Marysville Police Officer, with a genuine police badge to go along with it, from the Marysville Police Department, as well as a firefighter’s helmet from the Marysville Fire District. At Sunnyside Elementary, while the school’s PTSA conducted both the fundraiser and musical performances by the school’s students, Iverson and his father, Ryan, went up in the “bucket” of a Marysville Fire District ladder truck.

Iverson’s grandmother, Shirley Sutor, wiped her eyes as she spoke about Iverson’s year-long battle with cancer. Iverson was diagnosed with a Wilms’ tumor in May of last year, an ailment that usually tends to be spotted between the ages of 2-3.

“Before he was diagnosed, we didn’t have a clue,” Sutor said. “He’d get stomachaches sometimes, but kids being kids, he was off playing again before we knew it. Seattle Children’s Hospital has been fantastic. Ethan’s basically spent the whole past year there, going 3-4 times a week. It’s just been unbelievable.”

Iverson has already lost one kidney to the tumor, when doctors operated to remove the tumor by removing the kidney. Another Wilms’ tumor has since appeared, on both his remaining kidney and his liver, which has made his prognosis poor.

“You can still live with one kidney,” Sutor said, before chuckling, “You just have to avoid contact sports. But there are apparently two types of Wilms’ tumors — aggressive and non-aggressive — and what Ethan has is very, very aggressive. They’ve tried everything, on up to experimental drugs, but no matter what they throw at it, it stays the same.”

Iverson’s care has moved from Children’s to Hospice, and its priority has shifted from fighting the tumor to managing his pain.

“He’s got this little device strapped to him, about the size of a cell phone, that has his painkillers,” Sutor said. “It’s just about keeping the pain down now, because it runs all through his body.”

Although Ryan Iverson has insurance through his employers at Boeing, fundraisers such as the one at Sunnyside Elementary help the family fill in the gaps.

“Boeing’s been great, but when you get a $500,000 medical bill, and you still have to pay for 10 percent of it ... well, you do the math,” Sutor said.

Ethan Iverson had been scheduled to take a trip to Disneyland, but his worsening medical condition prevented him from doing so. His life expectancy is now being measured in months, if not weeks. In spite of these obstacles, Sutor described her grandson as “a smiley kid, who will always tell you, ‘Everything’s cool,’ even when he’s in a lot of pain.”

Those interested in supporting the Iverson family, or learning more, can log onto On behalf of the family, Sutor thanked the Marysville Fire District and Police Department, as well as the community as a whole, for their support.

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