Small but strong: Toddler shines bright despite battling cancer

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WARWICK, R.I. (WPRI) — What started as a hobby for David Shaw quickly became a passion.

But he wasn’t just building custom furniture for others in his backyard shed. He was also building a brighter future for his family. That is, until that future became uncertain.

Shaw’s 2-year-old son, Rowan, was diagnosed with high-risk metastatic neuroblastoma in December. It’s an aggressive form of cancer that requires aggressive treatment: one and a half years’ worth of chemotherapy, radiation and immunotherapy.

Courtesy: David Shaw

Those days of working an eight-hour shift on top of running his own business would no longer be possible for Shaw. He had to put his passion on hold in the midst of his most successful year to date to be there for his son.

“Having to go from an extreme high in business to actually closing my business? It’s gut-wrenching,” he said.

Shaw’s wife, Kendall, also had to quit her job to become Rowan’s full-time caretaker since his battered immune system prevents him from safely attending daycare.

Other than for Rowan’s treatment, the Shaws rarely leave the house. But all they have to do is look out the window to know others are cheering them on.

Their neighbor across the street taped a sign to her window soon after she learned of Rowan’s diagnosis.

“You got this,” the sign reads.

In response, the Shaws taped their own sign to their window thanking her for her show of support.

They’re also receiving plenty of support from the Facebook page they created called “Fight for Rowan” and are being provided financial assistance from the sale of T-shirts, hats and other apparel, all made by a friend in North Carolina.

Shaw said they’ve shipped T-shirts as far away as Australia.

Courtesy: David Shaw

On days when everything feels overwhelming, Shaw said he and his wife just look into his son’s big, blue eyes.

“He’s never shown any weakness through any of this, and realistically, that’s where we get our strength from,” Shaw said.  “As long as he’s curable and happy, we’re gonna be right there fighting with him.”

Shaw’s business may be on hold, but he said he’s building something much more precious in his backyard shed: memories with his son.

A GoFundMe page set up for the family has raised thousands of dollars, which will be put toward Rowan’s medical expenses.

A blood drive has also been organized for Rowan, who has already had three transfusions. The blood drive will be held Feb. 26 from 3 to 8 p.m.

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