Nine-year-old Ryan Hofmann's life revolves around school, pick-up basketball games with his big brothers and Cub Scout meetings with his friends.
But that's as normal as it gets. Once a day he takes chemotherapy pills to fight leukemia. Once a month he goes to a hospital for chemotherapy injections. And once every three months he undergoesa painful spinal tap to inject even more chemotherapy into his body.
But he's not alone in his battle. His family and friends -- even his elementary school -- are flooding him with support, cards, balloons and love. His Clarksville community plans an auction to raise money to help pay future medical bills.
"We just were sure that this kind of medical treatment was astronomical," said Terri Westerlund, anauction organizer.
The auction is scheduled for 1 to 4 p.m. Feb. 9 at the Clarksville Fire Station on Route 108. For auction are such items as an Atlantic City bus trip, a cellular car phone and free dessert for a month. Westerlund hopes the auction will raise more than $3,000.
Ryan is in remission now and going to school as a fourth-grader at Clarksville Elementary.
"I feel normal," said Ryan. "I don't feel sick or anything."
Ryan's father, Dennis, a glazier with Janco Greenhouse, has medical insurance that pays for the hospital bills, which amounted to $60,000 for the month-long hospital stay. The family pays $180 of the $900 monthly chemotherapy treatment. Should Ryan need a bone marrow transplant, and his brothers be unable to be donors, the family would have to bear all of the costs, which could total about $200,000.
Ryan's mother, Anne Hofmann, is happy that the community has rallied behind him.
"This is very appreciated," she said. "At the time I have to use the financial assistance, it will begreatly appreciated. Hopefully, I'll never have to use it."
The money will be channeled into a trust fund in Ryan's name at Sandy Springs National Bank. Hofmann says she hopes to pass on the money to a needy leukemia patient if Ryan doesn't need it.
Ryan was diagnosed with the disease, a cancer marked by overproduction of white blood cells, in July. He underwent intensive chemotherapy treatment at Georgetown University Hospital for three weeks. Doctors have surgically implanted a catheter near his shoulder and across his chest to get bloodsamples.
Ryan's mother is optimistic that he will win the fight. "He's done very well," she said. "I can look at him and see that he'sdone very well."
Since the chemotherapy treatment kills Ryan's normal white blood cells as well as abnormal ones, he also takes antibiotics to fight off bacteria and viruses.
"My first feeling was, leukemia is not an automatic death sentence, and it's not," she said. "As bad an illness as it is, it's not hopeless. Ryan's proof of that. Things are going good for him."
"I still do lots of normal things like play basketball games, ride bikes and roller blade," he said. "Ithink I'm going to do better, get over it."