Community member hosts party for Scotten School student battling leukemia | TheUnion.com
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Community member hosts party for Scotten School student battling leukemia

Dawson Deschaine in a file photo from 2015. Deschaine, now 7, has been battling leukemia for two years.
Submitted photo |

When Jan Roth read a story in The Union last March about kindergarten students at Margaret G. Scotten Elementary School organizing a fundraiser in honor of Dawson Deschaine, a classmate battling leukemia, she felt instantly compelled to reach out to the Deschaine family.

“Once something comes to you like that, you say, ‘This is something you need to do something about,’” said Roth, 72.

Roth, who owns the Roth Estate in Nevada City — a 13-acre property that she often opens up free-of-charge to local nonprofits hosting events — wrote letters of support to each member of the family, including mother Breanna, father Jason, seven-year-old Dawson and his older sister Harlie.



Her note to Dawson contained an offer; she wrote, “when you are out of the hospital, and feeling good once again, I want to give you a party with all your friends here on my property to celebrate your victory.”

Roth will make good on that promise Saturday, when she’ll host a party at the Roth Estate for Dawson — who is currently cancer-free — and his family, along with about 175 of the family’s friends and other community members who rallied around the family during Dawson’s cancer battle.




Roth initially envisioned the event as a fundraiser, but Breanna Deschaine wanted the event to simply be a celebration — and a way for the family to show their appreciation for the support of the community.

“I haven’t physically been able to say thank you” to those who hosted fundraisers for Dawson or wrote him cards while he was in the hospital,” Breanna Deschaine said.

The party will give those who have followed Dawson’s condition on Facebook a chance to “get to hug him and give him a kiss,” she said. “It’s great and wonderful.”

Dawson Deschaine was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia, a type of cancer in which the body produces too many immature white blood cells, on Jan. 1.

Within two days, the doctors had installed a broviac — a catheter used to administer medicine straight into the bloodstream — in Dawson’s chest, and he had started his first round of chemotherapy.

Breanna Deschaine left her job as an aide for visually impaired students at Lyman Gilmore Middle School to help care for Dawson.

Dawson ended up having four rounds of intensive chemotherapy. The last one, on May 12, was especially tough, Breanna Deschaine said; Dawson was in the intensive care unit for 13 days dealing with brain bleeding, seizures and “other scary stuff.”

He’ll need to have check-ups and lab work done regularly, but his current cancer-free diagnosis means he’s gearing up for school in August and “going back to being a boy and doing what he loves,” Breanna Deschaine said.

And he’s looking forward to Saturday, especially after having spent most of last school year separated from his classmates.

“Dawson’s so excited to see all his friends,” Breanna Deschaine said.

She said Dawson’s Beads of Courage will be on display at the party. The art project is part of a national program designed to support children coping with serious illness; for every different milestone in their treatment, children add beads to their string.

That art project will help others understand how crucial their support has been, and how far Dawson has come.

“It’s amazing to see it and what it is, and how long it is, and everything it represents,” Breanna Deschaine said.

Roth said when she originally sent her letters to the Deschaine family, she wasn’t expecting to hear back — but was touched to receive hand-written thank you notes from the family shortly after.

As she got to know family, she said it was clear why the community has stepped up to support them.

“They’re just so easy to love,” Roth said.

To contact Staff Writer Emily Lavin, email elavin@theunion.com or call 530-477-4230.


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