For a little boy enduring grueling chemotherapy sessions, state troopers decided to brighten the family’s holiday with a $500 donation. Since he was diagnosed with Burkitt leukemia in July, 5 year-old Cohen Smith has endured six chemotherapy rounds at Mayo Clinic in Rochester to battle the aggressive cancer. When his story came to the attention of troopers at Mason City’s post, their union unanimously voted to give their yearly $500 charitable donation to his parents for medical and travel expenses. Two troopers surprised the family with the check at their home on Thursday morning. With a bald head, clad in a red GAP sweatshirt and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle pajama pants, Cohen was subdued by the unexpected attention, clinging to his mother as cautiously gave one trooper a high-five. “It breaks your heart,” said Trooper Keith Duenow afterwards. He hoped “maybe it makes a little bit of an impact.” When Cohen started complaining of stomach pains and flu symptoms for about a week last summer, his parents Steve and Brenda Smith took him to Iowa Specialty Hospital in Belmond, thinking he had a gastrointestinal issue. Doctors told them he might have a twisted intestine. None of their four older children have had any serious health problems. The cancer diagnosis at Mayo was a shock. “Some days are good and some days are bad,” Brenda said of her son. “He very rarely complains about not feeling good.” Since July, she has given up her daycare business until at least the spring to take him up to Rochester every two weeks for appointments. When he goes through chemo, they are typically in Minnesota for three to five days at a time. In September, daycare customers and church friends held a benefit that raised several thousand dollars for his cancer costs, she said. Cohen is currently in remission, but has two chemotherapy rounds left, and will subsequently be checked for cancer every year. “We just left it to God, it was really out of our hands,” Brenda said. As the two troopers left her son with a patrol hat, badge sticker, temporary tattoos, coloring books, and stickers, she said he was normally an outgoing child who likes to play outside and loves watching “Paw Patrol” cartoons on television. He wants to be a firefighter or police officer when he gets older. She couldn’t guess how much the final bill will be for his cancer treatments, she said. The $500 check the troopers left will probably be used for gas expenses to Rochester. Dealing with pediatric cancer has reset some of their priorities, now more grateful for the time they spend together, especially at Christmas. “The kids could have had nothing under the tree and all of us being together would have been plenty,” she said. And, enjoy every moment: “Life is just too short to do anything less than that,” she said.
Story Courtesy of Globe Gazette