Josiah falls quiet, contemplating the open-endedness of his mother's question.

"How do you feel about everything that's going on?" she asks.

To his mother's surprise, he replies, "Happy."

"Why are you happy? Mommy's not happy," Erika Garcia says.

A moment passes, and then this from a 9-year-old boy fighting for his life: "Because the devil gave me two weeks to live, but God helped me."

A little over a month ago, Josiah Garcia seemed to have a cold that wouldn't go away.

"He started sleeping anywhere from 16 to 20 hours a day," Garcia said.

Concerned, she took her son to a doctor, who discovered Josiah's spleen was enlarged. Suspecting mono, the doctor immediately sent the Garcias to York Hospital for more tests.

Those tests sparked more concern at the hospital, and Josiah was quickly whisked to Hershey Medical Center. There, doctors discovered Josiah's white blood cell count — the cells that indicate infection — had spiked to dangerous levels.

"He was on the verge of mini strokes, major organ damage," Garcia said. "They told us if we didn't catch it, he had two weeks to live."

A scary diagnosis: On July 2, doctors diagnosed Josiah with acute lymphoblastic leukemia, a type of blood cancer that had also spread to Josiah's spleen and lungs.

Josiah was supposed to head to summer camp that week, a scary thought for his mother.

"I don't know if my son would have come home," she said. "I still can't get over that — we go in for cold symptoms and we come out with cancer."

Doctors started chemotherapy immediately. Josiah will continue to undergo chemotherapy treatments for the next three years, at least.

Garcia said doctors told her about 80 percent of children beat acute lymphoblastic leukemia.

"But every child is different," she said.

She said she's been upfront with Josiah about what the diagnosis means. They've always been close, she said.

"I can't break down in front of him," she said. "I have to show strength to him."

So, she said, she cries at night.

'Healed by God': Josiah was born prematurely, weighing in at just 1.5 pounds. He spent his first days in the NICU.

Garcia, who lives with her son in Dover, named him Josiah before she realized its meaning, "Healed by God."

"He's really living up to his name," she said.

He's also a goof. Josiah is "a smart aleck" who loves animals — even the creepy crawly ones, like the fake spider he uses to tease his mother.

Lately, he's been really interested in learning sign language, Garcia said. He's affectionate, well-spoken — a "church boy" who likes to read the Bible, Garcia said.

Steroids are part of his medication regiment, and it's given Josiah a huge appetite. These days, it's not unusual for Josiah to wake his mother at 1 a.m. because he wants spaghetti.

Josiah is doing well, considering the circumstances. Doctors have advised a stingy schedule of hand washing and teeth brushing to prevent infections.

"There's so many things that we have to look for," Garcia said.

Community help: Since the diagnosis, friends, family and organizations have stepped up to help.

One friend, for example, ordered bracelets that say, "Leukemia who? Josiah don't know who that is!"

Garcia said she's received financial help from the Four Diamonds Fund, a group that helps families with children fighting cancer and funds research.

"It's an amazing feeling to know that you're not going through this alone," Garcia said.

She's also reached out to the Make A Wish Foundation, and she started a Facebook page called "Josiahs battle has just begun."

A fundraiser to benefit Josiah and his mom is scheduled for Saturday.

Organizer Larena Braswell, Garcia's sister, said Josiah is the "smartest, sweetest little boy you would ever know."

"It's just so overwhelming," Braswell said. "You would never expect, as sweet and as smart and so well-mannered, something like this to happen to him."

Braswell and friends have planned a car wash and bake sale from noon to 4 p.m. at 11th Avenue Banquet and Entertainment Venue, 36 W. 11th Ave. They'll also have a raffle of several items, including movie theater and theme park tickets.

All proceeds will help Josiah and his mom pay medical bills.

— Reach Erin James at