BILLINGS — In July of last year, Makenna Letasky noticed her son La'Monte wasn't acting quite like himself.
“I had taken him in to check his blood work to see if he was anemic and his levels came back not so good, so they ended up poking him in his arm rather than just the finger," she said. "The next morning, we got the call that he did have leukemia.”
Letasky described the phone call she received that her toddler had cancer as "gut-wrenching."
“(It's) something you never thought you’d have to hear,” she said.
Next thing she knew, they were heading to Colorado, where they would spend the next 10 and a half months. During La'Monte's treatments, he had six blood transfusions. One of the transfusions happened on his second birthday.
Now, the family is back in Billings and just recently celebrated his third birthday.
“He’s currently in remission-slash-maintenance. He has about a year left of treatments so we’re getting there,” she said while smiling.
La'Monte's picture can be found on a virtual flyer with six other children under the words, "September is Childhood Cancer Awareness Month" and "Childhood Cancer Awareness Virtual Blood Drive."
Each child in the photos has had a blood or platelet transfusion, just like La'Monte. Letasky and the other mothers of the children know just how important blood donations are for children such as their own.
“They’ve taken a very unfortunate situation and one of the hardest things I think any of us can imagine going through, and turned it into educating people and letting them know how important blood and platelet transfusions are,” said Vitalant communications manager Tori Robbins. “The number one reason people don’t donate blood is that nobody has ever asked them face to face to do it.”
The blood drive will run through September, and pledges to donate can be made by visiting this link.