Kids, Cancer and Gluten Free… Ethan’s Story Part 1


When our son Ethan was diagnosed with Ewing’s Sarcoma of the soft tissue specifically the right Illiac or hip Christmas of 2011, the doctors  discovered a large tumor that decimated the hip bone. It was of course a nightmare of fear and the unknown. Ethan was eleven years old at the time and the tumor had been growing silently for some time. No one knew how long but at least a year for sure.

Because of the advanced state of the tumor the only choice before us was chemotherapy and radiation. The treatment protocol would last approximately 9 months to a year.

Of course the natural reaction and one I took was to find ways or a way to help Ethan overcome this cancer. Researching health diets, supplements and of course the origin and details about Ewing’s Sarcoma. The doctors and nurses had heard it all from parents and I was no different, however a few weeks into Ethan’s treatment I made a discovery that I am going to share. It is not a cure specifically for cancer or any disease however from what I learned and how Ethan responded over the course of that dreadful year was nothing short of amazing. Even the professionals at the hospital eventually admitted I was on to something.

What I am going to share is a means to help you or your loved one be able to possibly overcome your health issue and possibly defeat it or at the very least make it much easier to live day to day without fear. I have always believed in the saying, ‘knowledge is power’. It is true.

I will tell Ethan’s story and within that story will share what I learned and specifically did during Ethan’s year-long chemo and radiation therapy. I hope I can inspire and perhaps Lord willing introduce a new paradigm of thought in prevention and healing of disease.

Today Ethan is in remission and doing very well at the age of 14.

Let me start from the beginning.

The week of Christmas of 2011, Ethan came down with a significant fever and pain in his right leg and hip. He had the year before had intermittent discomfort in his leg and hip and intermittent low grade fevers. He was also going through growth spurts and so we all figured his body was just going through normal growth pains.

During the winter months it is typical for flu bugs and colds to make the rounds especially with kids so again because Ethan wasn’t experiencing anything astounding or out of the ordinary we figured it was just the next round of viral bugs going around.

I have practiced good organic nutrition all our children’s lives. We have our own garden every year, we can, dehydrate, make our own yogurt and sometimes cheese, bake and pretty much stay away from processed foods and junk foods. Just common sense. So when in the fall of 2011 Ethan started having more frequent aches in his right leg and hip area I took him to the chiropractor a few times which seemed to give him great relief. But only for a while.

No one noticed anything worth noting or detected the tumor that was growing. However when Ethan came down with a major fever the week of Christmas I started getting concerned. Fever, severe aches in his right leg and hip and then the day before Christmas eve he couldn’t put weight on his right leg but fell to the floor walking to the bathroom. I immediately called the doctor and took him in. The doctor didn’t find anything at first but did detect swelling in Ethan’s right hip. He sent us home with an antibiotic and that he was going to call our local hospital to schedule a scan of the hip to see if there was an infection going on. Apparently there is a bacterial infection most commonly found in pre-teen boys that can affect the bone or soft tissue surrounding the joints. The doctor wanted to rule that out.

We barely got home when the doctor’s nurse called us and asked us to please rush Ethan to the hospital as initial blood tests showed an extremely high level of white cells. No one mentioned cancer at this point so not even I suspected that possible diagnosis.

So off to the hospital we went and as soon as we got there Ethan not being able to put weight on his right leg, he needed a wheel chair we were rushed into the emergency room. Within minutes Ethan was surrounded by the head physician and many nurses taking vitals and then Ethan was taken to a MRI.
Our small town hospital is not equipped for MRI’s and it just so happened they had the MRI mobile unit set up for a few days with scheduled appointments for other patients.

Ethan was in so much pain and couldn’t lay still so it was decided to rush him to Amplatz children’s hospital in MPLS. To say I was scared at this point is an understatement. But the ER doctor gave Ethan a mild sedative to ease the pain as Amplatz was an hour away.

Christmas Eve morning the doctors told us the results of all the tests and scans. “your son has Ewing’s Sarcoma Cancer of the right Illiac or hip.” We were told it is not genetic nor environmental. In fact no one knows why Ewing’s Sarcoma happens. The doctors showed us the x-rays of his hip and showed that a large tumor had decimated the hip bone not just the soft tissue. The one good thing is the tumor was not on or near the spine making Ethan’s recovery more positive however the only way to attack this was chemotherapy and radiation. Will he lose his leg and hip? Will he survive this? So many questions, so much fear.

Once the diagnosis sunk in my mom instincts also kicked in and I began to research this cancer and see what I could do to help. The doctors and nurses were accustomed to parents looking for the ‘cure’ however things were about to get very interesting!

The first couple weeks into Ethan’s chemotherapy one thing I noticed on the hospital floor was the amount of junk food families had in their children’s rooms and how nutrition was not fully addressed. ‘Any calorie is a good calorie’ was the acceptable rule of thumb because while the children were on their respective cancer protocols eating was a difficult thing for them. I was told that the taste buds on the tongue would be seriously affected so most foods the kids normally ate did not taste good or the kids would crave extremely strong tasting foods or snacks like Flaming Hot Cheetos. One which Ethan craved. I was horrified! How can anyone get well if they are gorging on junk foods!!! Then one day I had that ‘AHA’ moment.

Looking back over the year before Ethan got sick I realized he had frequently craved anything citrus and anything with tomatoes, like spaghetti sauce, over did it on the ketchup, homemade tomato soup etc. Also the year previous he craved popcorn, baked potato fries that I would season with cayenne pepper, sea salt, garlic and olive oil. At the hospital the cravings for those foods was even stronger! Also he was used to eating homemade whole grain muffins, pancakes, waffles and bread for sandwiches. Plus juicing fresh fruits and veggies for power drinks and other things.

Chemotherapy made him very sick and he could not keep anything down at all those first few weeks. In fact he lost so much weight he started looking like those starving children you see on commercials. I had to do something so I would make these foods he craved at home and bring then to the hospital. He tried so hard to keep food down but just couldn’t.  But one thing i did discover, the one thing that became that AHA moment was, those particular things Ethan craved was his body telling us all what it needed to get well and beat cancer!

For example, tomatoes are loaded with vitamin C and lycopenes an antioxidant plus other things. Potatoes, vitamin C, potassium, Vitamin B6, magnesium, iron  and the citrus he craved, again Vitamin C!! I discovered Ethan’s body was telling him, us exactly what was required to get well. His body was seriously communicating through his cravings. For example again, Ethan wanted very hot and spicy food like cayenne pepper and again.. what do we have? Vitamin C! do you see a trend here? This was only the beginning.

I had also been making my own whole multi grain baking mix for years that consisted of whole wheat, flax seed meal, millet and brown rice flour and sometimes other whole grains for variety. I could make muffins, waffles you name it. But it hit me, what if i made this mix a whole multi grain mix only gluten free? Ethan was showing signs of gluten intolerance. But I wasn’t sure if he was developing gluten allergies or if this was a result of the treatments he was on. One thing became certain, gluten was becoming a serious issue for him.

Experimenting with various gluten free flours it came down to switching the whole wheat for sorghum. Now i had a multi grain mix all naturally gluten free however what to do about grittiness, the texture? The muffins or breads would crumble. grrr and the texture Ethan hated. Too dry or whatever he was eating would fall apart on him making a mess.

I felt time was not on our side so I worked hard to make this mix taste normal, feel normal in the mouth and that Ethan could keep it down. He needed to gain weight.

I didn’t want to use gums and stayed away from the empty starches common to gluten free. Finally after  much trial and error I came up with a blend of natural ingredients to ‘bind’ the gluten free grains together making end baked products taste and look normal but healthy too. I purchased a portable muffin baker you can plug into the wall so when Ethan would be in the hospital for long stays I would make mini muffins for him right there. Long story short, after a few weeks Ethan was able to eat and keep down most everything i offered him from fresh juicing of fruits and veggies to the mini muffins whether plain, apple cinnamon etc. And he was gaining weight!

The main discovery going gluten free were that these ancient grains are easy on the digestive system. Ethan’s body was able to be nourished and he felt satisfied after eating.

Six months into his treatments it was rare for Ethan to vomit up his food but instead he was steadily gaining weight and doing well. The doctors and nurses were amazed but remained skeptical. The day came about 6-7 months into his treatments when the doctors began to admit i was on to something. Eventually Ethan rarely reacted to any of his treatments.

Today, Ethan is 14 and in remission. There is much more to Ethan’s recovery in the area of nutrition and gluten free i will share in future posts going into much deeper detail. Bottom line however is the body will speak loudly what it needs to maintain health or for healing something specific. Food cravings especially can be a direct arrow to vitamin and mineral deficiencies. I will go into this more in a later post.

Because of the gluten free discovery and sharing fresh made muffins with other parents and kids I decided to create a business and make it available to anyone who needs or wants it. These ancient grains are highly nutritious and simple having been consumed by people all over the world since the beginning of man.

You can learn more at my website:

Until next time… Blessings!

Laura Halfpenny








Laura Halfpenny
I have been nicknamed Mom on a Mission. Mother of 5, one hubby, 5 cats, 1 dog, 36 chickens
My mission has been of nutrition, beating childhood cancer and going gluten free. My now 14 year old son was diagnosed with Ewing's Sarcoma of the right hip in 2011. It was during this difficult time and using various suppliments and gluten free foods our son is now in remission.
Because of this remarkable recovery I started Versameal LLC having created the first ever 100% whole grain naturally gluten free baking and bread mix without the use of starches, gums or chemicals such as mythylcellulose.