SARANAC - Ian Yando didn't ask to be an inspiration to others. He didn't ask to be someone that people even several years older than him would look up to. However, that's what he's become.
The 18-year-old Saranac Central High School student has had a long and difficult road that starts from the day he was born, said his mother, Cathy Yando.
Ian was born with Diamond-Blackfan anemia, a rare form of anemia that affects about one in 2 million people.
"We didn't realize he even had this problem until he was about 7 weeks old," said Yando.
That was when Ian simply stopped breathing one night, said Yando, and was taken to the emergency room. He was treated and later referred to a specialist in Burlington, Vt., who diagnosed Ian with his condition, which required him to have transfusions to boost his red blood cell count.
However, Ian wasn't out of the woods. His transfusions led him to have an overload of iron, which eventually had to be treated for that on a regular basis.
Most recently, Ian and his family traveled to the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis last year for Ian to receive a bone marrow transplant after it was noticed his white blood cell and platelet counts had also dropped.
"We were there for five months," said Yando. "And, he never really complained, in spite of what he was going through."
It seemed as if things were finally starting to turn around for Ian - he was recovering well from his bone marrow transplant and was going back to school to pick up where he left off earlier in the year. Then, about a week ago, he was diagnosed with colon cancer.
"It was a total surprise to his doctors," said Yando. "You just don't see many 18-year-olds with colon cancer."