Army of supporters rally around young cancer patient

Wesley Sizemore
Wesley Sizemore
Tiffany Sizemore
Tiffany Sizemore

LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - You've heard the saying "it takes a village to raise a child." In so many cases, it takes an army to fight a life-threatening disease. A special young man in Louisville and his troops are giving new meaning to Army Strong.

The key to getting Wesley Sizemore to open up, just ask him anything about his favorite game Minecraft.

Let him show you how to play it and you've made a friend for life, but Wesley has another passion.

"He's always liked the military," said his mother Tiffany Sizemore. "He actually has a military room and it's all done up in military."

Tiffany said the day after Veterans Day doctors found a tumor that turned out to be Burkitt's lymphoma in her 7-year-old soldier.

"That night they showed me a scan and it was unbelievable," she said of Wesley's initial diagnosis. "It was just almost half his head."

After hearing the news mobilizing Wesley's Army was among her first thoughts.  She wanted to gather a troop of supporters to help him fight.

Wesley's Army has all of the hallmarks of the soldier's experience. "Chemo and prayer are our weapons to fight this enemy," said Tiffany. When Wesley starting losing hair because of chemo, Tiffany said she explained that all soldiers have to get their hair cut. Then some of Wesley's troops cut their own hair as well.

It didn't take long for real soldiers started to hear word of Wesley's Army.

"His first week here, somebody noticed the sign on our door and his daughter was a patient here and he was actually in the Army, active duty," said Tiffany.

That military visit led to another and another after that. Staff Sergeant Keith Auspland is among the soldiers who were touched by Wesley's story.

"I think it's his desire and his fight," Auspland said. "I've been to see him several times and I've never seen a frown on his face. He's always seemed hopeful."

Sergeant Auspland told a few more soldiers and before you know it, pictures and messages started coming in from military members all over the country, urging the young fighter to keep up his battle.

"We've gotten stuff from Florida, Texas, Hawaii," Tiffany said, "soldiers, sending their medals."

Sergeant Auspland took it a step further and inducted Wesley into the Army. "Swore him in as a staff sergeant, the fastest promoted sergeant in the history of the Army, I have to tell you."

He gave Wesley a flag that had traveled with him on his last deployment to Baghdad, "Me giving that flag to him means more to me than keeping it."

He also gave Wesley a uniform to go along with it. "The patches that are on there or flags are ones that I carried with me during my last deployment so they have special meaning to me as well," Auspland said.

While part of Wesley's Army is child's play, another is a very adult message to the little boy.

"I reminded him that now that he's a soldier, we never leave a solider behind," Auspland said.

That's the part that meant the most to Tiffany. "There's been moments that have been pretty dark and to be able to look and see messages sent of support has done wonders for all of us."

If support and prayers are able to help heal, Wesley's Army may have done more than just lift the Sizemore's spirits.

"Good news is that we were just told  that after this treatment he'll probably be going into remission," Tiffany said.

Doctors will have to keep an eye on Wesley to be sure, but it looks like the 7-year-old who was going to have to soldier through 28 rounds of chemo may have accomplished his mission after just five.

Tiffany said, "He's amazing. He really is. He's taught me a lot."

Tiffany says they thought they'd be lucky to get to 300 people. Right now, it's almost eight times that with soldiers across the globe, ready and willing to support Wesley's mission.

Wesley was named the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society's 2014 Boy of the Year and maybe just as great: Wesley got to leave the hospital Wednesday and is recovering from what is hopefully his last round of chemo at home.

You can visit the fundraising site the family set up to help with expenses here.You can find Wesley Sizemore's Army on Facebook by clicking here.

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