Friday, January 8, 2021

Community rallies to support 8-year-old Windham boy struggling with leukemia

Dominic Desalle of Windham, who turned 8
on Christmas Eve, was officially diagnosed
with acute myeloid leukemia a few days after
Thanksgiving. A GoFundMe page has been
set up to help the family with his medical bills.
There will also be a Red Cross Blood Drive
conducted that will provide special blood
platelet donation's to meet Dominic's needs
this coming week. SUBMITTED PHOTO 

By Lorraine Glowczak

No parent or grandparent wants to learn that their child or grandchild has cancer. It is, in fact, their worst nightmare. But strength of spirit and love of community helps the Desalle-Strehlke family stay strong as they face together the leukemia diagnosis of their son and grandson, Dominic Desalle of Windham, who turned 8 on Christmas Eve. He was officially diagnosed with Acute Myeloid Leukemia (AML) a few days after Thanksgiving.

“It all began about three weeks before Thanksgiving,” said Dominic’s grandmother, Carol Desalle. “He was experiencing a fever, fatigue, vomiting, exhaustion and sensitivity to light, so I took him to Mercy Express Care in Westbrook. They tested him for COVID and everything came back negative, except tests showed Dominic had a mild case of strep throat.”

Carol Desalle brought Dominic back home with her to nurse him back to health. Dominic considers his grandmother’s house his second home. Dominic’s father, Joshua Desalle has just completed a certification program and is currently a surgical technician. He shares custody with Dominic’s mother, Kylie Strehlke, who works full-time as a certified nursing assistant. Dominic also has a younger brother, Landon.

“Dom’s fever and the other symptoms continued despite the medication we received,” Carol Desalle said. “When Dom’s mother brought him and Landon over the day before for Thanksgiving – I had planned the day for making pies - it is our holiday tradition.  Dominic said he couldn’t do it. He kept asking to go upstairs. I thought that was odd behavior for his personality.”

By 2:30 a.m. on Thanksgiving Day, Dominic’s symptoms had not only increased but included the loss of coordination. He was unable to put his hands together to wash them and found it difficult to stand up straight and walk in a steady manner.

“I looked at his nail beds and they were completely drained of color. I knew I had to rush him to the emergency room. I called his mother and she met us at the ER.”

It was there that spinal and bone marrow tests were completed and the diagnosis was confirmed.

Dominic is now receiving his first round of cancer treatments. He and his family are now in a “wait and
see” mode since further treatment is determined by how Dominic’s body reacts to the medication therapy. In addition to this, Dominic faces a few hurdles that add to the emotional and physical difficulties of cancer.

“One challenge Dominic faces is that his body carries a gene that will cause a relapse,” Carol Desalle said. “Due to this fact, it is deemed he will have to have a bone marrow transplant and thus will have to find a donor.”

A bone marrow transplant is not the only thing needed as part of Dominic’s healing.

“He also needs blood platelets,” said Carol Desalle. “What surprised me the most is that platelets are not readily available because very few people donate them. Dom and another young girl that was in the hospital at the same time had to wait over 12 hours before platelets were given to them.”

There is a way the community can help and be there for Dominic and his family. One such individual is a friend of the family, Jennifer Harmon. She established a GoFundMe page immediately upon hearing the news.

“Josh's parents, Carol and Tony [Desalle], have always been people who want to help others,” Harmon said. “They opened their home to my daughter, son-in-law, and grandson. My grandson Matthew was just an infant when Dom was just a year old. Soon, they became best buddies over the next several years. I felt that starting the GoFundMe page was the right thing to do.”

Harmon continued, “I know how compassionate we are, especially for our children. Josh and Kylie need to be able to focus on Dominic without the stress of covering their expenses to be with him. I don't want them ever to feel like they can't be with him while he goes through his treatments.”

As of this printing, the GoFundMe page for Dominic has raised $5,450 out of a $10,000 goal. The GoFundMe web address is

In addition to financial donations, there will be a Red Cross Blood Drive that will provide special blood
platelet donations to meet Dominic’s needs from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 12 at the Clarion Hotel,
1230 Congress St. in Portland. Reservations are required. To schedule an appointment, visit and use the sponsor code: Dominic.

If one wishes to see if they are a bone marrow match for Dominic, visit the Be The Match website at

In whatever way you feel called to support this 8-year-old’s way back to health, any and all assistance is appreciated. But perhaps Jennifer Harmon says it best, “Let's help the Desalle-Strehlke family while Dom kicks cancer’s butt. #DomoStrong!” <

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