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Donors Sought For Young L.I. Friends Battling Leukemia

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Jake Amato (L) Kaitlyn Rochel (R) (Photo/CBS 2)

Jake Amato (L) Kaitlyn Rochel (R) (Photo/CBS 2)

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FARMINGDALE, N.Y. (CBS 2) — A young boy diagnosed with leukemia on Long Island is continuing his battle with the cancer four years later.

CBS 2 highlighted the story of 8-year-old Jake Amato in June when his fellow 2nd graders and teacher decided to shave their heads in support of their classmate.

Reporter Cindy Hsu spoke with Jake and his friend Kaitlyn Rochel Friday about their continued battle with leukemia and their insights on what it was like to fight cancer for half of their lives.

“You have to get admitted a lot, you have to take a lot of medicine at home, you have to get your tubing a lot, sometimes you have to go home with your tube in,” Jake said.

“There are like certain places you can’t go and certain foods you can’t eat, like if you want to eat Sushi, you can’t eat it because you’re on the medicine,” Kaitlyn said.

7-year-old Kaitlyn said she wants to eventually become a kindergarten teacher and Jake has some high aspirations as well.

“I want to be a guitar player and play in concerts and I want to be a baseball player for the New York Mets,” Jake said.

Kaitlyn had been in remission for a year and half, but relapsed just one week ago. Jake’s cancer also reappeared in June.

Both families hoped that siblings would be bone marrow donor matches, but her family is now turning to the public to find matches.

The DKMS Marrow Donor Center will hold a drive Sunday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Weldon Howitt Middle School in Farmingdale. The families are urging people to get tested with a simple mouth swab to see if they might be a match.

Both Kaitlyn and Jake’s mothers have been in touch everyday since their children were diagnosed a number of years ago and continued to be amazed by the outpouring of support.

“I personally have never felt so loved in my life and I can’t even believe how many people truly care about me and my family and Jake,” Debbie Amato, Jake’s mother, said.

While the road ahead continues to be difficult, both families said they will be traveling it together.

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