Like many people in the south, Jaden and his entire family suffer from seasonal allergies. An early pollen season in 2017 aggravated his allergies, so his mother, Vicki, got Jaden some over the counter medication to help. The medication soothed Jaden’s cough for a period of time, but after a few days, it came back with a vengeance. Vicki took Jaden to his pediatrician’s after-hours clinic where the doctor gave him a breathing treatment because he had so little air movement in his left lung. When that didn’t help, the doctor sent him to the emergency room for an x-ray to check for pneumonia or a blood clot.
“Jaden was moved to the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit after his x-ray and CT scan,” Vicki recalled. “They wouldn’t tell me what was wrong, only that he was a very sick boy.”
After a long, frustrating wait, the doctor finally told Vicki that Jaden had leukemia. The doctor would have to operate immediately to insert a chest tube into Jaden’s lung and take a biopsy to determine the specific type of leukemia.
This was not Jaden’s first run-in with cancer. A friend in pre-k named Evan had Acute Myeloid Leukemia and tragically, died after a year of treatment. Since that time, Jaden and his family have been fundraising and started Childhood Cancer Awareness Month Gold-Out games at the high school where Jaden’s brother played football. When he heard he had cancer, Jaden began to mentally process what that might mean.
“Dr. Johnson was great about it,” said Vicki. “He talked to Jaden on his level and explained that leukemias can be very different – that it wasn’t even apples and oranges, it was more like apples and watermelons. He really helped Jaden understand that his cancer and Evan’s were different. That calmed Jaden down.”
Jaden began chemo the same day as his surgery. The mass was so large that it had collapsed his lung. Fortunately, the chest tube gave him immediate relief and his breathing improved.
After a year of treatment, Jaden has two years left to go. His latest bone marrow scan revealed that he has less than .01% leukemia cells in his marrow. He will continue treatment until there is absolutely no trace of leukemia.
Right now, he is on the sidelines, but Jaden is looking forward to playing basketball and football again.
“Cancer has changed him,” Vicki said. “He has always been reserved, and the cancer drove him to be even quieter. He is finally starting to come back out of his shell, and he has decided that he wants to use his story to make a difference.”
Jaden and his family participated in CURE’s Kids Conquer Cancer One Day at a Time last year during National Childhood Cancer Awareness Month, sharing his story and raising money to fight back. Jaden also helped with a Gold Out game at Richmond Hill High School and led the team onto the field.
“Cancer can hit anyone, so we feel that it is important for us to do our part to find a cure,” Vicki insisted. “Like I always say: I wasn’t a cancer mom until the day I was one.”
Participation in CURE’s Kids Conquer Cancer One Day at a Time is a great way to share your child’s cancer story with the community and join us in fighting childhood cancer. For more information about this wonderful program, please contact Lisa Branch at [email protected]