Last year, Ethan Fishel, a 15-year-old Boy Scout from southern Utah Troop 0509, was diagnosed with Lymphoma.
Fishel and his family spent the summer traveling to Las Vegas for treatment and eventually beat cancer. And now that he’s back at home, he’s working on a project to help others in the area to fight their own battles with the disease.
Through Ethan’s treatment programs, he and his family gathered strength from an experienced and supportive network of other survivors. The only problem was that this network was located in Las Vegas.
One of the resources that provided the Fishels with access to this network was a youth-focused cancer support system called Candlelighters, an organization that raises awareness and provides outings for families affected by cancer to spend time with others who are fighting the same fight.
Upon returning home, the Fishels were unable to find anything like the Candlelighters based in Washington County.
“There are a lot of kids who will find themselves in this situation, who are seeking medical care outside of the area, but it would be nice to have the social aspect available here for them,” said Angela Fishel, Ethan’s mother.
So, Ethan and his family got to work.
Ethan was already a Life Scout, the second-highest rank a Boy Scout can achieve, but needed to develop a project to earn his Eagle Scout, the highest rank. Knowing what he knew about the need for cancer patients to get support, he decided to try to set up a local support network.
“Down here, we don’t have that,” Ethan said. “We don’t have a pediatric oncologist at all, so there’s no groups down here. You either have to go to Las Vegas or the Wasatch Front.”
His goal is to find families affected by cancer and provide networking resources so locals can have access to the same resources the Fishels experienced in Las Vegas.
“It’s very helpful for them to be able to meet people who know what they’re going through,” he said. “It really helps.”
HIPAA laws prevent hospitals from sharing information of cancer patients, so the initial event for Ethan’s project will focus on drawing out people who want to be part of the program and spreading the news through the community.
On Saturday, Aug. 6, Ethan and his troop will hold a breakfast event at Cottonwood Cove Park. Community members are invited to attend, meet other families affected by cancer, and exchange information for future events. Additionally, Ethan hopes to contact businesses interested in sponsoring outings in the future.
“The event this weekend is trying to just find everyone, and then if people want to help sponsor or host future events…that’s really the future goal,” Ethan said.
Troop 0509 is a non-denominational group sponsored by the St. George Elks, and has been active for more than 30 years.
If you go
What: Meet-and-greet breakfast.
When: Saturday, Aug. 6, 9 a.m. to 11 a.m.
Where: Cottonwood Cove Park, 1027 S. Dixie Dr, St. George
Cost: Free to attend.