COMMUNITY… ACTIVATE! Positive Fight Mode for Ian

by | Sep 26, 2012 | Local Living | 19 comments

*Update 10/1: The official PFM for Ian website is UP with link for donation help… HERE! The site is still “under construction”, but the critical info is living there now.

*Update 9/27: There are a lot of wonderful plans in the works. Hoping there will be a simply donation site sooner than later, but there are A LOT of other ways to help get key support efforts going. If you would like to learn more or find out how you or your organization can help, please email me directly at jennyonthespot @ gmail [dot] com. I will connect you with the team. A bunch of HUGE thank yous to so many who are praying, thinking, and acting on behalf of Ian and his family!


My friends.

On Sunday I received an email from my friend Andrea.

“I am wondering if you would like to help be a part of this…” This is a portion of the email that followed:

…On the first day of the first grade Ian Gunnell, a 6-year-old Poulsbo boy, began a journey of firsts. He made his lunch, hopped on the bus, and headed to school. The doctor called his home before school had even started. Ian needed to go to Seattle’s Children’s Hospital for more tests. He was picked up before noon. By that evening he was admitted to the hospital and on Sept. 7, 2012, diagnosed with leukemia and awaiting more test results.

Then came the day after diagnosis. The day when Ian’s family learned what they were facing was a rare and aggressive form of the disease – blastic plasmacytoid dendritic cell neoplasm. There are only 25 documented cases of this malignancy in children and Ian’s is the first to ever be seen or treated in Seattle. In fact, there is little reference for pediatric treatment of the disease available worldwide.

Ian’s fight deserves and needs the attention of the country’s best medical minds and research. But medical costs for families of childhood leukemia patients are monumental. The average cost of just one round of chemotherapy is $150,000. Ian’s treatment will go on for months, possibly longer. Several rounds of chemotherapy are often required for success. Chemotherapy also demands comprehensive support and after care treatment, which can include special antibiotics, injections, blood transfusions and more. Battling this disease may make a stem cell transplant necessary. That procedure alone can exceed a half million dollars and carries its own follow-up treatment, transportation, hospitalization, supportive care, and other expenses.

During this critical time, Ian, his mother Tanya, and his 10-year-old sister Jenna, need to live in the vicinity of the hospital. Yet, temporary housing/living expenses in Seattle costs roughly $5,000/mo. Ian’s father, Chris, is trying to work and maintain their household here for their two high school students – Andrew, a senior, and Rachel, a freshman. To compound matters, Ian’s father just received a job layoff notice as part of a company downsize which will further impact their situation in the coming months.

When doctors, without answers, left the room that day, the Gunnells were left to react. It was in that a moment, with no preconceived thoughts, when Chris and Tanya looked Ian and his three older siblings in the eye and told them that they were going to have to come together in a really unique way. There they were, standing together as a family, in a small isolated corner of the hospital, when a desperate and loving Dad grabbed a marker and scribbled on the bottom of the patient whiteboard his rallying cry – the letters PFM – and “Positive Fight Mode for Ian” was activated.


lemonade stand
The first thing I did after reading that email was cry.

The second thing I did was email Andrea back with, YES. I want to be part of this.

At this point, the community has rallied and there is a benefit event planning meeting next Sunday evening.

But why bring this to you?

Because something like this reaches beyond the city limits of Poulsbo. You are my ONLINE community… Almost daily I come to you with stories of chaos or mania or silliness. Today I share a story of heartbreak, but also of hope.

Always hope.

Today I come to you, my valued community, seeking prayers. Prayers for Ian. Prayers for his amazing family.

And I come to you seeking resource. I have flopped about the internet looking for ways to collect donations utilizing this space. I have turned my wheels on the idea of procuring a load of cute sparkly stuff to give away here to incent donations…

But for the time I am asking for your eyes and ears and even hands. For the benefit, we are shooting for the stars. Literally – any celebrities out there? Big names = big money (let’s be honest). Cancer care treatment = BIG MONEY.

WE ARE DREAMING BIG. Remember my post about dreaming big on the Huffington Post? Yep. I’m dreaming big too, just like my daughter taught me. Olympic dreams… beating cancer … SAME.

In the comments, I invite you to share messages of love, thoughts, and prayer for the Gunnell family. They will see this! If you have a way to give, or have an idea, or know someone, or know someone who knows someone… or would like to learn about how you can give (time or resource!) please email me directly at jennyonthespot @ gmail [dot] com.

And share. I invite you to share this with your community… In the words of that famous Disney song, “It’s a small world afterall…” Share. Share. The power of prayer and love and community, these things have the power to heal and comfort and unite the unlikeliest of people.



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