Bay City community steps up for 5-year-old fighting cancer

A COVID test turned into a leukemia diagnosis for Asher Buzzard
Published: Oct. 2, 2020 at 6:00 PM EDT
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BAY CITY, Mich. (WJRT) - The fear of COVID-19 saved the life of a 5-year-old boy in Bay City.

However, it’s just the beginning of a long road ahead after making a different discovery, which the family won’t face alone.

Asher Buzzard was getting ready to start kindergarten in early September when he developed a rash and a high temperature. To be cautious, his mom Melissa Buzzard took him to the hospital.

“I thought he had the COVID symptoms of the MIS, the rare side effect that comes with COVID with children. I would have thought he just had the flu. So I honestly thought when I took him in I was going to get a COVID diagnosis,” Melissa said.

Instead, her worst nightmare came true after almost losing her son three times.

“As they were doing more test, they came back to tell me that something was really wrong with his platelets and that his white blood cell counts were 305,000 and his potassium was extremely high and he started crashing on the table at Covenant," Buzzard said. “The doctor pulled me into another room to tell me that all my worst fears had happened: It wasn’t COVID, it was T-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia.”

It was news a mother never wants to hear. Since his diagnosis, a warning sign now greets guests at their home warning others that someone inside has a weak immune system.

Both Melissa and her husband had to quit their jobs to focus on Asher’s health, which requires traveling to the University of Michigan Mott Children’s Hospital in Ann Arbor several times a week with a car that’s on it’s last leg.

To keep people updated on his progress, the family created a Facebook page called “Asher’s Army.” A fitting name that quickly revealed they were not alone.

“Multiple people have been generous and donated gift cards and made meals for us and sent him gifts and just been extremely helpful. People I don’t even know the community has all came together,” said Buzzard. “They say it takes a village to raise a child, but it also takes a village to fight cancer because without the support, I’d feel very alone.”

The community isn’t stopping there. A takeout taco dinner benefit happened on Oct. 4 to help the Buzzard family ease the financial burden that comes with Asher’s treatment.

“Every single bit of the food has been donated by local restaurants and businesses. So the meat shops have donated the meat, we’ve had cheese donated by a cheese shop and Taco Bell has donated cheese and tortillas," said Jane Smith, Asher’s grandma.

The benefit dinner is happening at the Spinning Wheel Bar in Bay City and will have raffle tickets and a 50/50 raffle. Winners of the raffle will be announced on Facebook after the event.

The money received from the fundraiser will help with living expenses, gas, and transportation to Ann Arbor.

If people are unable to attend there are a few other ways you can help Asher’s Army.

“A simple thing is sending a card to Asher, doesn’t cost a lot of money. It takes a moment of time to say hey we’re thinking of you, and if you can’t make it, if you can’t make a donation, just say hi and send hugs, because we appreciate every one of them,” said Smith.

Asher has a long journey ahead of him with chemotherapy and possible bone marrow transplants. Not only are they leaning on the community but their family that is no stranger to loved ones diagnosed with cancer.

“My great nephew Ryker, a year ago was also five, was diagnosed with leukemia. Lightning does strike twice. So here we are, a year later with my grandson, with leukemia. So it’s been a hard roll for us and, but it has really been a blessing also in the fact that we’ve had friends, family, coworkers, we’ve got people that don’t know us at all, complete strangers, that are giving us love and prayers and support,” said Smith.

If you would like to donate, click here. If you would like more information about the benefit dinner, click here.

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