7-year-old Oregon boy battling leukemia wishes for the trip of a lifetime

Daisy Caballero (KGW)

DAMASCUS, Ore. — For the last year and a half, a Damascus family has been battling with a difficult cancer diagnosis in their family. Their youngest son Wesley Strobel, who is now seven, is undergoing chemo treatment for his high-risk B-cell, Philadelphia-like acute lymphoblastic leukemia.

“It was like a full-blown shock,” said Zoe Strobel, Wesley’s mom. “You don’t ever prepare to hear that word with your family.”

Zoe, who’s a nurse, took Wesley to the doctor on Halloween night in 2021 thinking it was a bad cold since he just started kindergarten. But further testing revealed Wesley had a rare mutation of blood cancer that’s harder to treat in kids, putting him at a higher risk of relapsing.

“His first year he wasn’t really in school,” said David Strobel, Wesley’s dad. “And when he was in school we were worried about ‘okay, what’s going to go on when he is at school.'”

His diagnosis also meant taking a step back from doing things he loved in order to protect his health.

“I really wanted to escape the hospital,” said Wesley. “I had to take hard medications like ones that tasted bad.”

Hospital trips consisted of endless tests, procedures and time apart from his older brother Zach, because of COVID-19 regulations.

“I think a lot of Wesley’s hardships of wanting to leave the hospital was to be with his brother, leave the hospital, be with the family,” said Zoe. “We were all just separated.”

Zoe said Wesley is full of life and adds, “[He’s] quite a fun character to have in our family. He is so loving and so tender.”

She said Wesley loves the outdoors, playing with his older brother Zach and digging in the sand on the beach.

David said he definitely likes to joke around too.

“What did you miss most not being with him?” asked KGW’s Daisy Caballero.

“Playing with him, playing video games with him,” said Zach.

Wesley’s treatments are working wonders. And the family is getting ready for Wesley’s final chemo treatment next year on March 1. with the help from the nonprofit One at a Time, which works to bring dream trips to children battling cancer and life-threatening illnesses.

“We’ve dreamt of this idea of him taking his very last chemo dose on the beach in Hawaii just to like celebrate and close that chapter of our life,” said Zoe.

The nonprofit has a goal of raising $5,000. So far they’re a little more than halfway there.

“Thank you for donating and raising money and letting us go to Hawaii,” said Wesley.

If you’d like to donate and make Wesley’s dream trip come true, you can click here.

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Taylar Ansures is a producer and reporter for NBC5 News. Taylar is from Redding, California and went to California State University, Chico. After graduating, she joined KRCR News Channel 7 in Redding as a morning producer. She moved to Southern Oregon in 2022 to be closer to family and became KTVL News 10’s digital producer. Taylar is currently finishing her Master's Degree in Professional Creative Writing through the University of Denver. In her free time, Taylar frequents independent bookstores and explores hiking trails across Southern Oregon and Northern California.
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