Friends pulled together and are building an extra bedroom for the family of a young boy living with leukemia.
By TIM YOVICH
VINDICATOR TRUMBULL STAFF
MASURY -- When Lonnie Hitt recalls her friend Laura Myers giving her a gift of a brick and piece of wood with a bow, tears stream down her cheeks.
That's when Hitt found out that her leukemia-stricken son, Shawn Jr., would get a room of his own -- for free.
The 2-year-old needs the room because chemotherapy has destroyed his immune system, making him susceptible to diseases.
The Masury woman and her husband, Shawn Sr., have two other children -- daughters, Steffany, 3, and Shelby, 4, living in their two-bedroom home.
Hitt realized something was medically wrong with her son because he had black and blue marks, a protruding belly, a slight limp and blue lips and fingernails.
Hitt said her doctor ignored the symptoms.
"It was horrifying," she recalled.
Her more assertive husband took Shawn Jr. to the physician, who then quickly determined the boy's liver and spleen were enlarged.
After blood tests, the boy was diagnosed April 30 with leukemia.
Because of the Hitt's small home, the hospital oncology team recommended that if the other children become sick, they should be sent to stay with their grandmother to try and prevent little Shawn from becoming ill.
Hitt said the couple is unable to add a room because they can't get a bank loan.
While the boy was hospitalized for four weeks, Myers, of Hubbard, walked into his room one day and handed Hitt a brick and board. An accompanying card said it was the first two pieces of Shawn Jr.'s bedroom.
Myers and Hitt have been friends since high school, and Myers and Hitt's mother, Margie Sams, are co-workers at Marucci & amp; Gaffney Excavating Inc. of Youngstown.
With donations from material companies and a free work crew headed by Al Sams of Liberty, Mrs. Sams' husband, the addition is framed and will be complete by the end of the month.
"They just want me to worry about him," Hitt said of those who have given their time and money.
"My wife said I have something for you to do," Sams said. "That's cool. I'll do it."
"I'd want somebody to do this for me," Myers noted, adding that she is thankful she has three healthy children.
As for Shawn Jr., his mother says the number of cancer cells in his blood and bones has fallen from 91 percent to zero.
Although his prognosis is "good," Shawn Jr. will be undergoing treatment for the rest of his life, Hitt said.