“Sometimes life hands you pretty sour lemons…” wrote Janell Watson as she shared heart-wrenching news last month. Coy, Janell and Eric’s three-year-old son, was diagnosed with cancer. In the weeks that have followed Coy’s diagnosis, the Watsons have found comfort in the love and support of the wrestling and football family, co-workers and friends they left behind in Valier and north central Montana.
“On Thursday (May 25) we stopped off at an urgent care on our way to a wedding thinking Coy had appendicitis...what you think you’ll never hear quickly became a reality....he has a type of cancer called Burkitt Lymphoma.”
The Watsons moved from Valier to Blackfoot, Idaho, last year when Eric was transferred to a new job with the Natural Resources Conservation Service. Janell is employed by a physical therapy company there. She worked as a physical therapy assistant in Shelby when the couple lived in Valier.
Their son, Rye, is 18 months old now and the couple is expecting their third child in early December.
“I’ve always said I got really lucky marrying Janell, and in times like these, that’s been solidified. She’s a champ and one in a trillion,” said Eric.
“We were life-flighted to Denver Children’s and couldn’t ask for a better medical team. Our doctors are very optimistic about his prognosis and so are we.”
While the last month has been a whirlwind for the Watsons, understanding employers and their “Team Moms” and Valier community have been their “wind in our sails,” admits a grateful Eric.
Coy’s chemo treatments started almost immediately at Colorado Children’s Hospital in Denver. “Coy has an awesome team of doctors, nurses and specialists assigned to him,” said Eric, adding that Coy’s official diagnosis is Stage 3 Burkitt Lymphoma. “There’s a very high success rate for beating this,” he added.
While Coy undergoes treatment, Janell and Eric stay with him in his hospital room rather than at the nearby Ronald McDonald House. “Neither one of us want to leave his side. We are fortunate to have friends and family close to Denver that we have stayed with when we are discharged or when we attend outpatient appointments.”
“He’s had some ups and downs but is doing such a good job especially for a three-year-old.”
Coy will be undergoing chemo treatments for the next four to six months in Denver. “He will have small breaks where, hopefully, we will be able to go back to Idaho in between,” said Eric.
Coy has been a real trooper, despite the typical chemo side effects: weight and appetite loss, nausea, vomiting, loss of hair and a decreased immune system. “He’s had his good days and his crummy days these past few weeks,” shared Eric.
While Coy’s diet isn’t restricted by his medical team, it is by Coy’s lack of appetite.
“His initial cravings were for ice cold water and ham sandwiches, which then turned into us just begging him to drink water or milk after this latest round of chemo,” said Eric.
Janelle has been with Coy during his entire time in Denver thanks to her understanding and supportive employer. Eric has been there for most of it, having to return to Idaho for just a couple days to work.
“The NRCS is truly a great family-oriented agency and I have been able to use sick and paid time off days to this point. My boss and the State Conservationist have been super supportive and accommodating,” he said.
As for their youngest son, Rye, he’s being spoiled and cared for by the couple’s “awesome family and support team. He’s been staying with Janell’s brother and sister-in-law who have children close to his age, which has been great,” said Eric. “It’s been reassuring and comforting for us that he’s in great hands. Both of our parents have also helped out when needed.” The Watsons’ hometown of Wheatland, Wyo., is just a few hours away.
“Some days the lemons will be a little more sour but we have the sweetest boy that will make them into lemonade.”
The Watsons have their Valier family and others from north central Montana helping them cope with this new reality.
“We are beyond blessed and overwhelmed with the number of people who have reached out to us. All the thoughts and prayers are comforting…” said Eric.
“Our Team Moms – Celeste Kovatch, Rachel Stoltz, Tammy VandenBos and Shenna Monroe – that were always so supportive and behind us while we lived and coached in Valier have continued that amazing support,” he shared. “We are moved beyond words with all that they have done and continue to do. We love you ladies and are so thankful for each of you.”
The Team Moms have organized several fundraisers for the Watsons. Donation jars are set up at DeVoe’s and Curry’s Market in Valier. Team Coy bracelets are for sale at DeVoe’s and Van Motors in Conrad.
Donations to the Watsons to help with the medical and related expenses of Coy’s treatment may be deposited into the Coy Watson Benefit account at Wells Fargo Bank. Any Wells Fargo branch can accept donations.
Cards of encouragement can be sent to the Watsons at a number of addresses. Janell’s parents are always coming to Denver and would gladly bring any cards or letters to the Watsons. Send mail to them at:
Eric and Janell Watson
79 Westview Circle
Wheatland, WY 82201
Hospital officials will gladly make sure any cards or letters make their way to Coy and his family by mailing to:
c/o Children’s Hospital Colorado, 7th floor
13123 East 16th Ave.
Aurora, CO 80045
The Watsons’ home address in Idaho is:
Eric and Janell Watson
963 Meadow Way
Blackfoot, ID 83221
Eric said the hospital will forward any mail they receive to their home address once they are discharged.
The Watsons expressed, “The outpouring support from the community of Valier and the surrounding areas has been very humbling and overwhelming. That little town will always have our hearts.”
The Watsons have one simple request of their friends back in Valier and Montana:
“Please keep our Coy boy in your prayers.”