It's been just five weeks since four-year-old Ethan Limbach's cancer diagnosis, but his laughter still fills the room.
The Limbach's ordeal started around Christmas, when Ethan started losing energy and battling on-and-off fevers. Ethan's mom and dad, Megan and Brian, say their pediatrician initially thought Ethan was fighting a virus.
But weeks later, on January 21, Ethan was at his grandparents' house and grew even more lethargic and pale; when he refused to play baseball, his favorite game, his family knew something else was wrong.
A follow-up visit to the doctor showed that Ethan was sensitive to pressure on his neck and stomach, and the pediatrician referred him to St. Mary's in Jefferson City for blood tests.
After the blood was drawn, Megan returned to work and Brian went home with Ethan.
The blood tests showed that Ethan has leukemia. Megan got the call while at work that afternoon.
"My knees were shaking," Megan said.
"They say when you hear your child has cancer that your knees shake and you just feel like 'oh my gosh,' and I just melted into a puddle. And all of [my coworkers] came around me and I started crying, and they were crying, and I told them...I said 'how am I going to go home and tell my husband that our son has cancer?'"
Brian was speechless when asked to describe his initial reaction. He said he didn't believe the news until they got to St. Louis Children's Hospital, where Ethan is now being treated, that night.
"My boss at work told me several times, God doesn't give you more than you can handle. So he must think you have strong shoulders," Megan said.
That faith has been tested before; Megan and Brian tried for ten years to conceive before finally giving birth to twins Ethan and Elle.
"We had been through several IVF cycles, I had several miscarriages, I had triplets that were stillborn at 23 weeks," Megan said.
"And we were getting ready to do another IVF cycle and we had three embryos frozen and they told me that I needed to use them. They had been frozen for...several years. And then I ended up with these two little angels."
Ethan still has a long battle to fight, but Megan says the community has rallied around her son.
A Facebook page in Ethan's name has updates and well-wishes, and Megan's sister-in-law has set up a t-shirt sale to benefit the Limbachs.
If you want to help them out, you can also make donations to the following address:
Bank of St. Elizabeth, Mary's Home branch
C/O Limbach Benefit
278 Highway H
Eugene, MO 65032