The Times - Serving Waitsburg, Dayton and the Touchet Valley

By Dena Martin
The Times 

Gatlin family fundraiser planned for March 22

The young family will spend most of the year walking their toddler through cancer treatment


Courtesy Photo

A fundraising dinner and raffle is planned for March 22 in Dayton, to help raise money for Danica and Michael Gatlin while their youngest child, Chayton, undergoes cancer treatment. (L to r) Mason, Danica, Ava, Michael, Chayton.

DAYTON – Michael and Danica Gatlin are still reeling after being blindsided by one those curveballs that life can lob out of nowhere.

The parents were originally told their almost two-year-old, Chayton, was suffering from a swollen gland. When it hadn't subsided after four weeks, they took the toddler to the emergency room on Jan. 23. The response was not what they expected.

Doctors immediately performed scans and, two hours later, Danica and Chayton were LifeFlighted to Seattle where Chayton received more tests, including a spinal lumbar tap. The next day, he was officially diagnosed with Rhabdomyosarcoma, a cancer of the soft and connective tissue.

"It also affects the bone marrow, so they had to biopsy that, too. It was a lot, but he was tough through it all. He was running around by the second day and hasn't wavered.The first week was tough will all the scans, being in a strange place, and all the people. But he's snapped back to his regular personality," Danica said.

Chayton will require a total of 43 weeks of treatment. He and Danica are currently staying at the Ronald McDonald House in Spokane where they visit Sacred Heart Children's Hospital one or two times each week for treatment.

"We have to stay within an hour of the hospital in case Chayton gets a fever. We have to get him on IV antibiotics immediately if that happens," Danica said.

Chayton will return to Seattle in May and June for radiation and doctors should know if surgery is a possibility by the end of March or early April, Danica said.

Michael and Danica both grew up in Dayton and graduated from Dayton High School in 2012. The young couple began dating as sophomores and have three children together: Mason, age 4; Ava, who turned five on March 5, and Chayton who turns two on March 31. The couple purchased their first home in November.

Danica is staying with Chayton in Spokane while Michael, who works at Hanford, continues to work and travels to Spokane on the weekend. Family and friends are pitching in to help with childcare.

Danica said she is thankful for her aunt who set up a Gofundme account (which has since been closed) that brought in enough money to cover their mortgage for the next four months.

Family friends have organized a benefit dinner to help raise funds for food, travel and living expenses.

A "Help Chayton Kick Cancer" benefit dinner will be held on Fri., March 22 from 5-7 p.m. at the Dayton Elementary School multipurpose room. Dinner will be pulled pork sandwiches, baked beans, coleslaw and a brownie at $10/ticket.

The band T&T, with members Dr. Kyle Terry and Tom Anderson, will provide entertainment. Ticket price includes door prize drawings for donations from businesses in Dayton, Waitsburg and Prescott.

There will also be a 50/50 raffle. Tickets may be purchased at Waitsburg Grocery, the Dayton Public Health Department or by calling (509) 629-1656.

"We are so grateful for all the community help and support. The worst part is wanting to go home and not being able to. Chayton is such a trooper. He keeps us all strong. His last treatment will be the last weekend before Thanksgiving. I know we will be thankful for some family time," Danica said.

Donations can also be made to the account of Danica Gatlin at Home Street Bank in Dayton.


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