When Caymanian toddler Emmis Ebanks’ parents took him to the dentist with toothache, they never expected to find out their lively, happy two-year-old was suffering from a serious illness.
But after a series of tests, doctors discovered a tumour in his mouth and he was flown out to Miami for treatment.
Medical experts are hopeful he can make a full recovery, but he is facing six months of intensive chemotherapy in the United States of America.
Now friends, family and community are pulling together to raise money for costs associated with his treatment.
They will take part in a 90-minute Zumba workout to raise funds next Saturday.
Emmis’ aunt Nadine Gould said she would be trying out the dance-based exercise routine for the first time to help pay for her sister Kayla Seymour to remain in Miami with her son as he goes through treatment.
She said the medical costs were 100 per cent covered by insurance but flights, hotel bills and potentially long-term accommodation in Miami would be hard to cover for part-time bank teller Kayla and her partner Adrian Ebanks, who works at Papa John’s pizza.
She said the news that Emmis was seriously sick had shocked the family.
“He is a normal happy, healthy two-year-old. Even on the flight over to Miami he was smiling and playing. You would never have known he’s sick.”
She said the first sign the family had that anything was wrong was when Emmis complained of a toothache.
“We never had any idea that it could be something like this,” she added.
Emmis was going through further tests at Miami Children’s Hospital last week and it appears likely he will be there for some time.
Ms Gould added: “The treatment is going to take at least six months and we think he is going to have to be out there for that as they do not do paediatric chemotherapy here.”
A biopsy revealed the disease has spread to his bone and jaw.
Though cancerous cells have been identified, the current diagnosis is that Emmis is suffering from a condition called histiocytosis.
The disease is not normally fatal, if treated properly, although the outlook for younger patients is often more serious.
Community group Acts of Random Kindness is coordinating fundraising efforts to help his parents Adrian and Kayla, who have one other one-year-old son, cover the cost of being in Miami for his treatment.
Personal trainer Nicola Agemian has organised a ‘Zumbathon’ for Saturday, 25 May, at the South Sound community centre with participants asked to kick-in a minimum of $25 sponsorship.
The Suite Elite band is also in the process of organising a concert with proceeds going to help Ennis and the parents of another boy, Beau Shields, who is undergoing treatment for cancer at Miami Children’s Hospital in Miami, Florida.
Both fundraisers where organised after ARK posted details of Emmis’ story on its Facebook page and all money collected will be administered by the charity.
Tara Nielsen, of ARK, stressed that all funds were held by the charity, which then pays hotel or hospital bills directly.
She said the organisation had decided to try to help Emmis after hearing about his case.
“He has a very serious condition which will require his family to be going back and forth from Miami for some time.”