When Wyatt Sargent was born on Nov. 14, 2017 his parents Ashley Sargent, a police officer in Kennebunkport, and Alex Sargent, an Army veteran and EMT with North East Ambulance Service were overjoyed with the beautiful addition to their family.
Joining older brother, 5-year-old Stephen, the family had only a short few weeks before their joy turned into a medical nightmare.
Ashley Sargent said they had to rush Wyatt to the emergency room at Maine Medical Center when he was just over a month old, when he stopped using his upper extremities. It was there that they received the devastating diagnosis of an atypical teratoid/rhabdoid tumor (ATRT) on his spine between the C3 and C6 vertebrae — a very rare and aggressive form of childhood cancer.
ATRT’s represent only one to two percent of childhood tumors and are usually diagnosed at age 3 to 4. Alex Sargent said Wyatt’s age makes his diagnosis even more rare, and more dire.
When Wyatt was just four weeks old the family traveled to Dana Farber Cancer Institute in Boston, Massachusetts, where he underwent surgery to remove the fast-growing tumor.
Ashley Sargent said the tumor is so aggressive, that in just over three weeks scans showed signs of regrowth. They are currently at Dana Farber in Boston where at just eight weeks old, Wyatt has started an intensive course of chemotherapy.
In the battle of his life at just weeks old, Wyatt has proven he’s a fighter, showing off his resiliency and zest for life to all who have met him and earning the nickname “Super Wy.”
“He has that fighting spirit,” Ashley Sargent said of her son.
“He’s a firecracker, he let’s the nurses and everyone know how he feels and what he wants,” Alex Sargent said.
That fighting spirit will be needed as the road ahead is very scary and uncertain. For the Sargents it’s even more difficult, as a pair of first responders, they’re more accustomed to helping those in need, than asking for help.
But help is needed, and friends, strangers and the law enforcement community statewide are answering the call.
Alex Sargent’s father, Ted Sargent, is a police officer in South Portland, and his department has sprung into action with a pasta dinner fundraiser.
A benefit Pasta Dinner and raffle will be held from 6 to 9 p.m. on Friday, Feb., 2 at Willow’s Pizza at 740 Broadway in South Portland.
Kennebunkport has joined forces with other law enforcement and first responders to spread the word about the fundraiser, and solicit donations for the raffle.
Organizer Liz Darling said they are looking for cash donations as well as donated items to be used in the raffle at the pasta dinner. People in the Kennebunk area can drop off donations at Kennebunkport Town Hall or the Kennebunkport Police Department. Checks should be made out to The Wyatt Sargent Cancer Fund.
Tickets for the pasta dinner can be purchased at the following locations in South Portland: South Portland Police Department, 30 Anthoine St., South Portland, Broadway Variety at 771 Broadway, Evelyn’s Tavern at 121 Sawyer St., Maine Roofing Inc. at 24 Bishop Ave., Willows, 740 Broadway, and in Scarborough at North East Mobile Health Services at 24 Washington Ave.
Tickets are $15 per person, $25 per couple, $40 family maximum and $5 for children under 12 and can also be purchased at the door.
For more information, contact Liz Darling at 207-767-4243.
Even with a very long and uncertain road ahead of them, Ashley and Alex Sargent aren’t just thinking of their son’s cancer battle. They want to raise money for childhood cancer research, and will be donating the profits from the sale of “SuperWy” T-shirts to childhood cancer research.
The T-shirts can be purchased at the Etsy shop MaineRusticCreations.
Hopeful and grateful
The Sargent’s are hopeful, despite the devastating diagnosis and uphill battle ahead.
“It’s a day-to-day kind of thing,” Alex Sargent said. “Statistically the prognosis for his diagnosis at his young age is not great.”
They are also very grateful and humbled by the outpouring of support.
With a 5-year-old son to care for in addition to baby Wyatt, they are facing months off from work as well as extensive travel and medical costs.
Alex Sargent’s coworkers donated paid time off to him so he could be with his son in Boston. Ashley Sargent is still on maternity leave, but may be able to take advantage of a new catastrophic leave policy just adopted by the town of Kennebunkport allowing employees to donate time to a coworker similar to her husband’s company.
Every donation, prayer and thoughtful gesture is appreciated by the overwhelmed new parents.
They are left speechless by the support from police, fire and EMS throughout the state, most of whom they have never met.
“It’s difficult for us both to accept help. Everyone is just saying ‘we’re doing this for you’ instead of asking what they can do. That’s the best. It’s been huge,” Ashley Sargent said. “From, the bottom of our hearts, thank you. We are so grateful for the support for us and for our little guy.”
Follow the Bangor Daily News on Facebook for the latest Maine news.