A 7-year-old Liberty boy, who courageously battled an aggressive form of leukemia for the last couple of years, has died. Ethan Cruz, son of Willie and Esmeralda “Ezzie” Cruz and brother of Eden and Beckham, passed Monday night at Texas Children’s Hospital.
“He had been in and out of the hospital since March,” said Gigi Haidusek VanDeventer, owner of Great Beginnings Preschool in Liberty. Cruz attended four years of school at the pre-school, during which time VanDeventer became close friends with his family.
“He was the kindest, sweetest kid. He had been a student of mine since he was 3 years old. We were planning for him to go to first grade this year as a homebound student but in January he got sick again,” she said.
Cruz was diagnosed with leukemia in 2019. His parents initially were told their son’s leukemia was not the aggressive kind and his prognosis was good.
“Everyone was so thrilled and thought it would be over soon. We were planning the celebration for him having beaten it when the leukemia returned. The doctors started testing him and found his cancer was the more aggressive kind,” VanDeVenter said.
Since January he had endured six rounds of chemotherapy with little success. Doctors agreed to try two more medical treatments as a last resort, VanDeventer said.
“They were in the midst of the first round when his body couldn’t handle it any more,” she said.
Over the weekend, Cruz rallied, coming off the ventilator to visit with his mom. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, he had been unable to have many visitors while in the hospital. On Monday night, while playing cards, he started coughing uncontrollably and couldn’t catch his breath, VanDeventer said.
“As they were sedating him, he said to his mom, ‘Mom, what is that bright light?’ Then he was gone,” she said. “Ezzie has a little peace in knowing that was him going home to God. She said she saw a huge rainbow on her way home from the hospital and that, too, gave her peace that he is not suffering anymore, but it has been so hard on the family.”
Cruz was a cheerful kid who never felt sorry for himself despite his health problems, his teacher said. He never complained and was upbeat about his chances to beat cancer. He participated in school and played with the other children when his energy level allowed it.
A Go Fund Me account has been set up to help the family with the expenses of Cruz’s burial and headstone. The fundraising goal is $25,000 and as of 4 p.m. Friday, donations were $10,000 short of the goal.
If anyone wishes to make a donation, go online to https://www.gofundme.com/f/49bg9-ethan039s-memorial/share