ROWLEY — Six years ago, Johanna Lent, a Rowley mother of three, got devastating news.
Her middle child, Ethan, then 5 years old, had been diagnosed with acute myelogenous leukemia (AML), a rare cancer of the blood and bone marrow and was given a 30 percent chance of survival.
“I walked back into my house and I said, ‘Oh my gosh. He may never be back in this house again,’” Lent said of coming home that fateful night.
Lent and her husband, Yancy, were told that, depending on the type of leukemia Ethan had, they would be living out of Children’s Hospital for the next month.
“Then the next day they told us they were wrong and we would be there for about six months,” said Lent. “So, that’s when we called in the troops. My mom came to the house and took care of my kids for me while I lived at the hospital with my son.”
Ethan started intense chemotherapy immediately, which caused severe infections and pneumonia while his family could do nothing but watch. Then a miracle happened. Ethan’s younger brother, Eliot, who was 3 years old, was a perfect match for a transplant. A five-month process began as doctors removed bone marrow from Eliot’s lower backbone roughly 40 times.
“It was overwhelming,” Lent said of the feelings brought to the forefront during that time. “It was literally a matter of life and death.”
The Lents beat the odds and Eliot, now 11, is not only in remission but just helped the Rowley Red Sox win their Little League championship from right field.
“We always call Ethan a superhero because he beat those amazing obstacles that were placed in front of him and he came through this with amazing strength,” said Lent. “But superhero is the term that I call any child that I’ve met who is facing this horrific disease.”