Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Future Chef, 16, Busy with Leukemia Battle

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Future Chef, 16, Busy with Leukemia Battle

Article excerpt

Byline: Mary Maraghy, County Line staff writer

****************CORRECTION June 16, 2004

Because of a reporter's error, Mary Wearstler of Middleburg was incorrectly described as a widow in a story on page 1 of the June 9 edition of the Clay County Line. Wearstler and her husband had divorced before he died.


Donald Wearstler, a Middleburg 16-year-old famous for making tasty orange-chocolate cappuccino brownies, wants to become the next Chef Emeril Lagasse of cable-television fame.

He's currently undergoing chemotherapy for leukemia which has suppressed his immune system, but friends and family said it hasn't sapped his appetite for life or ability to amuse others.

"He's maintained a positive attitude and he's already talking about counseling other kids with cancer," said neighbor and friend Linda Chambers. "He's kept his sense of humor. He's the life of the party, always was and still is."

And he's still cooking -- using a Living with Cancer cookbook, which contains recipes designed to combat fatigue and nausea.

Donald has loved to cook since he was a kindergartner enthralled by making Jello.

"He made us Jamaican baby back ribs for Christmas dinner. I just got him a gas grill for his 16th birthday," said his mother, Mary Wearstler. "That's what he wanted."

Wearstler, a widow, said she's been overwhelmed by the support she's received from the community since Donald woke up with an egg-sized lump on his neck on Feb. 16. He turned in a research paper that was due at school that day, then his mother took him to Wolfson Children's Hospital where he was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia.

"It was like he got cancer overnight. This child who has thrown up only three times in his life and never had a cavity," she said. "The community [support] has been incredible."

Home Depot on Wells Road donated $200 worth of linoleum for Donald's bedroom floor. Per doctors orders, his carpet had to be removed because it harbored dust, harmful to Donald's suppressed immune system. …

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