Midlothian 4-year-old beats rare cancer

July 29, 2014 -

With a quick, shy smile, 4-year-old Westyn Bates turned and used his blue arm floaties to swim to the deep end with his attentive big brother.

As he swam away under his own power, his mother Patrice Bates remembered a time just months ago when Westyn couldn't take two steps before he needed to be carried.

“He used to sleep all the time,” she said. “Then it was down to two naps, and now he just takes two every day.”

This new strength is just one part of “Westyn's Victorious Recovery,” Patrice said. The Bates created a Facebook page with that name just weeks after Westyn's diagnosis with a rare and aggressive bone cancer called Ewing’s Sarcoma. And now the claim they made on faith has come true.

Westyn's latest rounds of blood tests and scans came back with no signs cancer, Patrice said. After nine months, four surgical procedures, 16 rounds of chemotherapy totaling 56 days, one bone marrow transplant, 21 blood transfusions and 76 trips to the hospital, the Bates can begin to redefine normal.

“The kids were used to waking up and us not being there because we had to take Westyn to the hospital,” Patrice said.

When Westyn spiked a fever after a chemo treatment, his parents had 30 minutes to get him to the hospital, she said.

“We couldn't make choices,” Westyn's father Mark Bates said. “It didn't matter if we didn't have groceries, we had to go.”

Westyn is the youngest of the Bate's 12 children. The nine children still living at home banded together to make sure Westyn and the family made it through, Patrice said. The family even made T-shirts with the Super Man logo on them to support super Westyn and show that he was their hero.

The two oldest, Madison and Evan, picked up the home schooling when their mother couldn't leave Westyn's side, Patrice said. Madison put off going to college and Evan started helping out in his father's business while Mark was in the hospital with Westyn.

“We saw him grow up into a man,” Mark said. “He went from not driving anywhere but to Wal-Mart to driving all over the county.”

On average, only 250 people in the U.S. are diagnosed with Ewing’s Sarcoma every year, and most range from age 10 to 12, according to the MD Anderson Cancer Center website at the University of Texas. The cancer can cause bone pain, swelling, fevers and sometimes tumors, according to the website.

The community came to support Westyn and his family. Frequent and favorite visitors were the knights from Medieval Times in Dallas.

“When they came walking into the hospital the first time in full costume, it was a show stopper,” Mark said.

The knights were impressed by Westyn's fighting spirit and how he accepted the painful treatments.

“I would bring him trinkets from the show, shields and swords and stuff, to remind him that he is fighting a battle, too,” said Crew Wyard, the head knight. “He inspired me as much as I might have inspired him.”

Church members, community businesses and followers of the Facebook page the Bates had never met in person donated money, sent presents and prayed endlessly, Patrica said. Gift cards were a special blessing since Westyn seemed to crave Chick-fil-A every time he went to the emergency room.

Yet, beyond the fears and long days and nights, there were some bright spots. The Children's Medical Center in Dallas has a two story indoor train, full of toy characters that the Bates family would visit at night to get out of the hospital room.

“Westyn donated four of his Ninja Turtles, so other kids could see them (ride the train),” Patrice said.

Because of the risk of transmitting an infection to Westyn, the family couldn't go out to as many places as before, she said. So ShowBiz Cinemas in Midlothian opened early twice to run movie times just for the Bates in a theater that had been specially cleaned.

From fear for their son, to determination to do what had to be done to reach a happy ending, Mark said the family's journey has strengthened their faith.

When Westyn goes back for more scans in three months to make sure the cancer hasn't returned, the family believes the tests will be clear.

“We don't accept any more cancer,” he said.

Since his final chemo treatment, Westyn's smile and personality has returned, Patrice said.

“He is so happy. He told me 'I doesn't want to be super Westyn any more, I just want to be Westyn,'” she said.


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