CREATED May. 10, 2013
Mesquite, NV (KTNV) -- A little boy is fighting for his life in Mesquite but he's hardly doing it alone. That is because the entire community has rallied around Ethan Mendenhal, creating Team Ethan.
Outside the Mendenhal house, there are yellow ribbons and signs and inside there are shirts and posters.
Dad Jeromy Mendenhal says, "On Valentines Day, our scans came back there was cancer everywhere. It lit up all over the place. So he's back on a chemo regimen since then. "
This cancer warrior has been fighting the good fight since 2009 and most of the time, he bounces right back -- amazing and inspiring the town of Mesquite. Ethan's parents will tell you the good Lord moved them here just in time. "We moved into this community in Mesquite three months before he was diagnosed. We didn't know a lot of people but we have had a huge outpouring."
A few weeks ago, a police escort took Ethan through town just hours after he returned from Utah and his latest treatments.
Ethan was feeling great that day -- well enough to enjoy the carnival being thrown for him. But every time he's strong enough, he needs more chemo and that is a painful, heartbreaking routine that's starting to take its toll.
Mom Shantiell Mendenhal told us, "Now I'm finally having that realization that maybe he should wait until he feels a little better."
But waiting means the cancer could spread. It's an impossible decision and this family needs support. And they're getting it from an unlikely place -- the Ultimate Fighting Championship.
Fighter Ryan Couture has spent tons of time with Ethan. "It's impressive to see how he bounces back and stays so positive even with all the trial he's going through.
Ryan and Ethan met through a non profit called It Ain't Chemo
that provides supplies to cancer patients and UFC experiences to take their minds off of things.
Founder Kevin Hoyt is a cancer survivor too. "We'll take them here to Extreme Couture to spar. It distracts them from what they're going through."
Ethan has been well enough for most of his treatments to enjoy sparring with his UFC hero but not on this day.
On this day, he's just too weak. But Ryan Couture and the entire town of Mesquite say don't count this boy out. "We are proud of our son. He's a warrior. He's our little cancer warrior."
Ethan's mom told me childhood cancer research is seriously underfunded. There just aren't the breakthroughs that a lot of us thought there were.
This family has decided to take Ethan's fight public so that he knows he's not alone but also to raise awareness about the need for childhood cancer research.