It's a parent's worst nightmare.

Just a few months before Rowan Neumann turned 2 in 2012, a doctor confirmed his distinct bruises were a symptom of a rare type of leukaemia.

Hearing the news, his mother Emily and father Ben couldn't imagine feeling more heartache.

Tragically, that was merely the start of five painful years reports the Daily Mail.


Rowan, their second-born, relapsed twice. When he was declared in remission a third time in late 2016, the couple had a baby girl, Winnie - who was diagnosed with stage 4 neuroblastoma, cancer of the nerve cells, at just 3 months old. Months after Winnie's surgery, Rowan's cancer came back.

Finally, in November 2017, doctors informed the family from Clio, Michigan, that both Rowan and Winnie are now completely cancer-free after a lifetime of grueling treatments.

The battle to reach that point has been agonising for the entire family, Emily told Daily Mail Online - not least for their oldest son, 11-year-old Tristan.

"This journey has been emotionally exhausting," Emily, 34, said. "A rollercoaster."

The family's ordeal began shortly after Rowan was born in May 2010.

Everything seemed to be going well until, within a few months, they started to notice unusual bruising on his body.

"We noticed he bruised easily," Emily told Daily Mail Online. "Whenever we went to hold his hand, his hand became bruised."

The couple monitored it and mentioned it in passing at doctors' appointments but at first, it didn't seem pressing.

"Leukemia wasn't even in our thought process when we thought of all the things that could be wrong with him," Emily said.

By the time he was nearing his second birthday, however, the bruising was getting even more pronounced, and they decided to take Rowan to a local hospital for blood work in March 2012.

"When the results came back I got a call from the doctors saying [Rowan] needed more testing and [he] needed it right away," said Emily, who was then referred to Hurley Children's Hospital, a children's hospital in Flint, Michigan.

At Hurley, more blood tests were performed and it was revealed that Rowan's white blood cells were "through the roof, four times what they should've been".

Within days, Rowan was diagnosed with mixed lineage leukemia, a very aggressive cancer found in the blood and bone marrow that predominantly occurs in pediatric patients.

They fill me right up.

A post shared by Emily Prusha Neumann (@emilytheneumann) on

Emily and Ben were devastated and overwhelmed by the journey of treatments ahead to cure their baby boy.

To their relief, Rowan went into remission that summer, within six months of his chemotherapy treatment.

He was in remission for nearly two years until a month before his fourth birthday, in April 2014, when a routine checkup, which included a spinal fluid biopsy, revealed his cancer had returned.

"It seemed less and less fair each time," Emily said.

"The first time around was scary but not as bad as the follow-up diagnosis," she added.

This time, Rowan was prescribed chemotherapy for another two years as well as brain radiation.

Within six months, scans revealed Rowan was in remission again - but he saw out the entire 24 months of treatment to make sure.

By spring 2016, they felt the relief they had been waiting for. Rowan had been cancer-free for years, and was finally coming to the end of his chemo and radiation therapy. That fall, Emily and Ben had the third baby they'd been dreaming of: Winnie, a girl, born in November 2016.

"We noticed from Winnie's birth that something was wrong," Emily said.

Their newborn daughter had a distended belly, didn't sleep well and couldn't keep any food down.

"We took her to a lot of doctor appointments," Emily said. "They missed the signs for a couple of months."

But finally one doctor noticed that Winnie's liver was triple the size it should have been.

"Her liver was eating up the real estate in her stomach," Emily explained. It turned out that was the reason Winnie couldn't keep any food down or sleep at night.

"But at that moment, I was not thinking cancer. There wasn't really a sense of urgency," she said.

It wasn't until Winnie's doctors learned about Rowan's leukemia that they recommended that Winnie also go to Hurley Medical Center for scans.

After running a few tests, doctors diagnosed 3-month-old Winnie with stage 4 neuroblastoma, a type of cancer that forms in certain types of nerve tissue.

The tumor was sitting right above her kidneys and had spread to her liver and bones.

As Emily and Ben already knew by that point, once cancer had metastasised it is incredibly difficult to treat.

"[Ben and I] had a very hard time processing that," Emily said.

"This little baby ... we barely got enough time to know her and now we find out she could be taken away from us."

Doctors started Winnie on treatment right away. After just three months of chemotherapy, the tumor shrunk to a point where they were able to remove it surgically in June 2017.

"She did really well and required no follow-up treatment," Emily said.

"Rowan was in the clear, so thankfully we were able to focus on Winnie and her treatment," she added.

At 7 years old, Rowan was leading a normal life - he spent a lot of his time reading, playing Lego and baking.

"He loves to bake. He's the official birthday cake baker in our house and his favorite bake is bread - any kind," Emily said.

However in July 2017, just one month after Winnie underwent her life-saving surgery, Rowan's vision became blurry and he started seeing stars.

After getting routine blood work done, doctors realised his platelet count, a very small cell in the blood that assists in blood clotting, was dropping.

At the end of July, Rowan underwent a bone marrow biopsy that revealed his cancer had returned.

"That was a blur," Emily explained. "[Ben and I] sat in the car and cried together for a half hour because we knew what this meant for his treatment."

Rowan's only treatment option was a bone marrow transplant.

It took just two weeks for doctors to find a match for him, and he received a bone marrow transplant in November 2017.

For Emily and Ben, those 14 days felt like a lifetime.

Rowan was in the hospital for nearly three months - from before Thanksgiving to after New Year's Eve, Emily said.

"Looking back, everything turned out fine," she said. "The donor gave Rowan his second chance at life."

Emily said both Rowan and Winnie are doing well.

However, she emphasised that Rowan is "not out of the woods yet".

"He's doing great and he's in remission," Emily said.

"But we're just watching, and waiting and holding our breath," she added.

It's been kind of an incredible day. #CMN #childrensmiraclenetwork

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After all Emily and Ben have been through, their neighbours came forward in February to help them renovate their home.

"The one thing that has never failed to pull us up from the depths is the kindness and generosity of friends, family and strangers," Emily told Daily Mail Online.

It took three weeks, more than 25 contractors and 5000 hours of work to create their new modern and clean home, which was necessary to help maintain Rowan's health.

"Having our house become a home is a gift we could not have given ourselves after the trials 2017 sent our way," Emily said. "The heart, time, money and talent that was invested is incredible. We're unworthy of such a gift. We are forever thankful."