Youngster fighting leukemia faces long road

MARSHALL – Imagine being 5 years old and having to tolerate years of tests, needles and poisonous chemicals.

Preston Holewa, formerly of Russell, was 4 when his parents, Glenn Holewa and Jacquelyn St. Aubin of Sauk Rapids, took him to the doctor after noticing swelling in his face.

“He was in a lot of pain,” St. Aubin said.

The medical staff at the hospital in St. Cloud knew there was something wrong and sent the family to Children’s Hospital in Minneapolis where they got a diagnosis of acute lymphoblastic leukemia.

Preston’s parents say there is a 97 percent survival rate for this kind of cancer, but he’ll need about three years of treatment to combat it.

“He’s half-way there,” said St. Aubin.

Every third month he receives chemotherapy which leaves him sick for about a week, she said.

“He’s in last stage maintenance,” St. Aubin said. “They increased his chemo dosage.”

He also takes medicine at home every day.

“He gets a chemo pill every night and an antibiotic so he won’t get sick,” she said.

He takes steroids to build his body weight and also receives physical therapy.

“He doesn’t have much of an appetite,” St. Aubin said.

The staff at Children’s Hospital monitor the cancer with a spinal tap every third month.

“They check his numbers,” St. Aubin said.

St. Aubin said Preston’s attitude is good.

“The doctors and nurses say he never complains,” she said. “Sometimes he’s in pain and sometimes he gets sick.”

Preston will attend kindergarten next fall.

To help pay for costs related to his treatment, Preston’s grandparents, Gordie and Jan St. Aubin of Russell, are planning a benefit for the family.

The event will take place from 4-7 p.m. Saturday at the Russell Middle School in Russell. A free-will donation will be accepted for a beef or pork dinner. A silent and live auction will also take place.

A dance featuring the Cavemen will take place from 8 p.m.-midnight Saturday at the Lyndwood Tex-Mex Ballroom in Lynd. The cover charge will be $10.