SLATER, Iowa -- A cancer diagnosis caught a Slater family off guard last year. Since then, the community has been rallying around the family, including strangers.
It was supposed to be a fun day for the Johnsen family last year.
"We both had the day off, kind of to celebrate his birthday," said Ryan Johnsen.
But, when they took their youngest son, Henry, for his one year check up on his first birthday April 24, 2015, they learned life-changing news.
"During that time his doctor found a tumor in his abdomen,” said Julie Johnsen. “The size of tumor he had was just so massive. It was the size of a medium cantaloupe."
Henry went through 10 days of testing, five rounds of chemotherapy and a nine-hour life-saving surgery. He spent 7 ½ weeks in the hospital, battled complications and endured more surgeries.
"It's not anything I'd wish on anybody," Julie Johnsen said.
Henry's parents said support from the community has been overwhelming.
“We expected it from close friends and family that we knew really well. Just getting the support from people we don't even know," Ryan Johnsen said.
The Style Bar Boutique in Ankeny helped the family through its Shop for a Cause program. It lasts a week once a month.
"I decided once a month I'll pick a family and donate 10 percent of sales to that family. I'll also take donations as well," owner Jami Langenfeld said.
The Style Bar Boutique opened in August 2015. The store gave $540 to the Johnsen family in January. Langenfeld said families appreciate it.
“Because every little bit helps for them, not only financially, but also getting the word out, awareness, you know what disease they've had and also the prayers. Most families are like, 'Just send prayers,'" she said.
That’s something the Johnsen family could still use. They say Henry is considered to be in remission, but he has a long road ahead.
"I think it's just going to be time more than anything else, and he'll have scans every three months to check for new growth of cancer,” said Julie Johnsen. "We just pray and take one day at a time and just be happy we have his smiling face with us every day.
You can follow the family's story on its Hope for Henry Facebook page.
This month's Shop for a Cause takes place the week of Feb. 22 at The Style Bar Boutique located at 2734 SE Delaware in Ankeny.
The money will go to the Boehmer family. Channel 13 News featured Aven's journey earlier this month. He was born with his liver on the outside of his body and had complications with his intestines. He faces a long hospital stay. His sister works at The Style Bar Boutique, and Langenfeld hopes they can make a big donation to the family.