Meet Jayden – Leukemia Warrior
Jocelyn explained, “The NCCS has helped us tremendously. I have missed a lot of work with each hospitalization, week-long stays, and driving back and forth for treatments.”
Turning 16 is undoubtedly the highlight of the teen years. Jayden, an active teen who loves soccer and cross country, celebrated his sweet sixteen in late October 2022.
But the excitement of the birthday was overshadowed by what seemed like a nasty virus. When vomiting led to dehydration, Jayden’s mom, Jocelyn, took him to the ER for fluids and labs. The labs indicated that Jayden’s white blood count was high – an indicator that led to a diagnosis of T-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia.
Just like that – a week after his 16th birthday – Jayden and his family were thrown into a chaotic and frightening new reality. Immediately after diagnosis, Jayden was hospitalized for 28 days. With the nearest children’s hospital three hours away, the family did their best to prepare for the dramatic changes ahead. Jocelyn struggled with the stress of it all, between learning the ins and outs of cancer treatment, taking long periods off of work, worrying about finances, and – the most significant stressor– leaving her 4-year-old son three hours away.
Chemotherapy – for all the good it does – also comes with its own set of complications. But when Jayden began chemo, something went very wrong. His body had an adverse reaction to the drug, which caused him to have stroke-like symptoms: weakness on one side of the body, slurred speech, and a facial droop. The ordeal was terrifying for the family. Jayden also felt insecure about the facial droop and slurred speech. He became frustrated trying to communicate and stopped talking altogether.
Slowly over the next few days, his symptoms began to improve until, finally, he was back to his usual self. Thankfully, as time passed from the frightening situation, Jayden was able to come to terms with what had happened. He began sharing with his friends and family about the scary symptoms he had experienced, realizing he could now laugh and joke about it.
Unfortunately, Jayden’s challenges continued – this time in the form of nausea. His medical team couldn’t find an anti-nausea medication to relieve him. Jayden’s spirits began to decline once more as he gave up hope of finding relief.
Several months later, the cause of his extreme nausea was discovered: ulcers. While there is a medication to treat the ulcers, it interferes with the chemotherapy. So Jayden looks forward to the end of chemo – so they can finally treat the ulcers that have given him so much discomfort. Until then, a nausea patch has offered a little relief from the vomiting.
Despite the challenges he’s faced, Jayden soldiers on bravely. He looks forward to days when he can be a typical 16-year-old, playing video games with a close friend. And, like all other 16-year-olds, he gets frustrated on days when his mom makes him do his homework.
Jayden and his family have been on a rollercoaster of emotions since diagnosis. Living so far away from his treatment facility has been a true challenge. Jayden has had extended hospital stays three times and has had several unexpected trips in addition to MRIs, doctor appointments, and other tests.
But the NCCS has been with them every mile of the way. Jocelyn explained, “The NCCS has helped us tremendously. I have missed a lot of work with each hospitalization, week-long stays, and driving back and forth for treatments,” she said.
The NCCS has helped the family with funding through the Emergency Assistance Fund and the Transportation Assistance Fund. “The NCCS has helped our family tremendously by providing money for gas to travel back and forth. You really don’t think of how expensive travel can be with gas, food, and a place to stay. And taking a cut in pay on top of increased travel has not been easy,” Jocelyn explained. “All of the help we have received from the NCCS has been such a blessing.”
NCCS continues to support Jayden’s family with their long commute through the Transportation Assistance Fund, which alleviates the financial burden of travel costs associated with cancer treatment. Because no family should go through childhood cancer alone. ™