A fifth grade student is fighting for his life after he was diagnosed with a rare bone marrow disease.
Kim Earl said her son, Dakota, started to get sick 18 months ago.
"He had problems with drinking a lot, going to the bathroom all the time, and it continued to increase in frequency," she said.
After many different appointments, a doctor diagnosed Dakota with a form of histiocytosis. This is a rare bone marrow disease which affects 1 in 200,000 children a year, doctors said. It happens when there's an over-production of white blood cells that can attack a person's bones, skins, and organs.
Doctors found a lesion in Dakota's brain that they believe to be a form of histiocytosis. There is no known cure for the illness. In rare cases, the disease can be life-threatening.
Doctors decided Dakota's best option is to complete chemotherapy treatments for the next year.
For one week a month, he spends hours at CAMC Women and Children's Hospital.
"I had a bunch of stomach aches, headaches, you name it and I've done it," Dakota said.
Dakota is responding well to treatment, his mom said. Still, it's not easy seeing her oldest son in pain. Dakota is one of four children.
"He's nauseous every day. His head hurts every day. He's cold, he's hot, he's tired. You just want to make it better and you can't," she said.
Kim wears her Team Dakota' T-shirt whenever she can. The shirt also mentions a non-profit organization dedicated to raising money for researchers to one day find a cure for the disease. It's called, 'Liam's Lighthouse Foundation'.
Dakota has 10 more months of treatment to go. He doesn't like needles, but braves a smile anyway.
Kim decided to share Dakota's story to raise awareness about histiocytosis, and help other families who might have a child suffering from the disease.
"You just have to hope that the medicine does what it's supposed to do. Tomorrow is a brighter day," she said.
Click here to learn more about histiocytosis and ways you can help find a cure.