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Racine family remembers 'tiny champion' lost to childhood cancer

Posted at 11:09 PM, Dec 10, 2018
and last updated 2018-12-13 19:58:53-05

It's going to be a different kind of Christmas this year for Suzanne and Joshua Kristopeit and their rambunctious young son Lennon.

It's the first Christmas their family will be without Arlo.

Their youngest son put up a courageous battle against cancer, but died in June at just three years old.

"Honestly, he was a really happy kid. I mean despite cancer treatment. I would call him a tiny champion. He just was happy all the time," remembers Suzanne.

Well, he wasn't always happy.

Arlo just couldn't get enough time with his mom and dad, and let them know when he needed more.

"A very tough baby. He just cried a lot and needed to be held all the time," Arlo's mom said.

If affection were a cure, Arlo would have conquered any disease.

But at just 13 months old, his mom and dad knew something was not right.

A fear quickly confirmed by his doctors.

"His pediatrician was like there's something wrong and you need an ultrasound and bloodwork. And in about three hours, we knew he had cancer," she said.

The cancer was a rare hepatoblastoma.

With the help of doctors at Children's Hospital of Wisconsin and the team at the MACC Fund, the fight was on.

Treatment. A liver transplant. More treatment.

"He relapsed and we did more treatment. Radiation, more chemo, more surgeries. Then he relapsed again so we did more surgeries," Joshua said.

More than 18 months where their life was strained to the limits.

A stress made easier by the MACC Fund floor at Children's Hospital.

"When your kid has cancer, you don't realize you live at the hospital. Laundry is a big issue. Food is a big issue," Joshua said.

"You live in the hospital, literally live there. The rooms are really nice. They put in new play rooms. They just put in a new kitchen," Suzanne said,

Those little touches made their time together all the more special.

And the support showered this family with peace as they fought through their worst days.

"We were just surrounded by love. People you didn't think knew about you were sending you thoughts and prayers and dinners," Joshua said.

As you celebrate your holiday this year, the Kristopeits ask you keep Arlo and the MACC Fund in mind.

Your contribution today will help send love to the next family facing a brave battle against childhood cancer.