JANESVILLE — Ethan Delaske’s hospital rooms have been like second homes for the Janesville three-year-old since his cancer diagnosis about a year ago.
His mother, Nicole, suspects being stuck in close quarters so much explains why he has trouble sleeping in his room at his actual home.
A free room remodel organized by a nonprofit could change that.
My Happy Place of Mason City, Iowa, has been remodeling rooms for children with health conditions since 2013. Most of the remodels have been in Iowa, but the nonprofit also takes the mission on the road, including remodeling another Mankato area child’s room in 2018.
My Happy Place Founder Lisa Tan said the response in Mankato last year was phenomenal, with businesses and volunteers stepping in to help. The success led the nonprofit to seek more nominations for remodels, leading to friends of Ethan’s family submitting his story for consideration.
Nicole brought Ethan to urgent care in November 2018 after she noticed him limping with his right leg. The eventual diagnosis was a stage four neuroblastoma, a cancer which develops from immature nerve cells and is most commonly found in children.
Ethan has since needed eight chemotherapy rounds, three antibody therapy rounds, 12 radiation rounds, a stem cell transplant and three surgeries to remove tumors. He’s currently receiving more antibody therapy in the hopes it’ll take care of the remaining disease in his leg.
His mother said the cancer’s relapse rate is about 50 to 60% within the next two years, but she’s hopeful he’ll soon be in remission.
“Through all of it he’s come a long ways,” she said. “He’s interacting with his nurses and really has been a trooper.”
She and Ethan’s father, Seth Hollermann, didn’t expect to be chosen for the remodel. She said they’re all excited for the big reveal Sunday.
“It was all kind of a big surprise when we heard Ethan was nominated,” she said. “The community response has been awesome.”
That response involves a host of local people and businesses offering their time, expertise and money for the remodel. My Happy Place raised $2,000 to do the work, with another $400 going to the family.
Ethan loves cars, so the room’s theme was an easy enough choice. Bellissimo Paint and Coatings, Rooms and Rest Furniture and Mattress, Whimsy & Weathered, Rickway Carpet and Harry’s True Value Hardware were among the area businesses involved in making it happen.
Denise David, who co-owns Whimsy & Weathered with daughter, Jes Tano, said the pieces they made for the room include a dresser designed to look like a tool box and a shelf made out of a motorcycle tire. The cause is especially close to their hearts, David said, as Tano went to school with Ethan’s father and now lives in Janesville.
“We’d been following (Ethan’s) struggles with cancer and we saw the benefit and said what can we do,” she said.
Tan said My Happy Place started doing projects outside of Iowa in the hopes it would inspire local folks to organize their own remodels. Her favorite part about the projects is seeing how many in the community step forward to help out a family in need, and the Mankato area again didn’t disappoint.
“That’s where I get satisfaction,” Tan said. “The gratification is pulling the community together to do this for one of their own.”