The family of a Mazama High School student undergoing chemotherapy for a rare cancer has made a GoFundMe account to offset the costs for travel to Medford and Portland for treatment.
Klamath Falls residents Ronda Nieters and her husband, Cody Nieters, are out of work while they care for their son, Cody, 16, who was diagnosed with Ewings Sarcoma on Oct. 15.
“He’s got the tumor in his leg and several nodules in his lungs,” Ronda said, “which is a sign of metastasizing, that it’s spread.
“You think, this’ll never happen to my family,” she added.
“Cancer … it can literally affect anybody at anytime.”
The family will find out more about the status of the tumor following significant rounds of chemotherapy over the course of the next month.
Meanwhile, Ronda is disabled following an intensive spinal surgery more than one year ago. Her husband, Cody, is on medical leave from work while he primarily transports their son son to treatment out of the area.
“It’s been 14 months since I’ve been able to work,” Ronda said.
The scenario results in some hard times — physically, emotionally, and financially — for the whole family.
Cody, a junior at Mazama, was diagnosed with cancer following two to three weeks of tests, and trips to Oregon Health and Science University’s Doernbecher Children’s Hospital in Portland.
Ronda first knew something was wrong after he was stung by a bee in late September.
Ronda took Cody to see a doctor following a persistent sore throat that emerged after the bee sting.
It was thought at first that he just had a virus. That quickly changed when the 16-year-old complained of a lump in his left thigh. A biopsy followed, after which, his left leg nearly doubled in size due to a blood clot. Then came the diagnosis of cancer.
Ronda and the family stayed at the Ronald McDonald House in Portland for much of November while he underwent treatment at Doernbecher.
Ronda said the family still feels in shock over the news, especially her son, Cody.
“He was pretty devastated over it,” she said.
“It’s getting a little bit easier to kind of cope with … he misses school and his friends badly.”
Mike Rooney, who serves as a counselor at Mazama High, said Cody is a “gregarious fellow,” is well-liked by students, and an honor roll student.
“Here’s a kid whose never had a C – a grade lower than a B,” Rooney said.
A 504 plan will be put in place for Cody upon his return to regular classes that provides extra support for his education amid cancer treatment.
“He’s willing to do everything he can to recover academically,” Rooney said. “So we certainly want to be in the position to help him do that.”
Rooney also served as a counselor for Ronda at Klamath Union High School while she attended.
He is considering organizing a day where all Mazama students can wear hats to school to help welcome Cody back to campus.
“To give him some special attention,” Rooney said.
On top of treatment for her son’s cancer, Ronda’s 11-year-old son, Kyle, stopped eating solid foods around the time of Cody’s diagnosis. Doctors diagnosed Kyle with a sensory and eating disorder induced by trauma and stress of his only brother’s illness.
Ronda brought Kyle home from Portland and now Cody’s dad is the main person transporting him to and from treatment, which includes both Medford and Portland.
With both parents out of work, the GoFundMe account will also help the family provide Christmas presents for Cody and Kyle.
“Gifts are not really what matters, it’s family,” Ronda said, “but they’re kids, you know.”
Kyle loves Vans sweatshirts and shoes, and BMX racing.
Both boys love LEGOs, Star Wars, and gift cards.
Kyle wears a men’s 7 and Cody wears men’s size 13.
Financial or other donations can be delivered to the bookkeeper, care of Mazama High School’s main office, 3009 Summers Lane, Klamath Falls, between 7 a.m. and 4 p.m., Monday through Friday.
Ronda said she and husband, Cody, don’t need anything, but could use funds to keep the house payments met.
“I’ve actually got everything paid up till today,” Ronda said on Monday.
But moving forward into the holidays, the couple has no income coming in and a $718 house payment to make next month.
“The bills don’t pay themselves,” Ronda said.
Still, she is hopeful to raise funds for transportation and other needs through the Go Fund Me account, and is focused on being present for her family.
“We just want things to go smoothly for our family,” Ronda said.
“All of a sudden, nothing really matters except for your family,” she added.
Donations can be made directly to the family through via their online GoFundMe account at www.gofundme.com/f/cody-nieters-cancer-fundraiser.