You could say music is in Jabari Henry’s blood. He plays drums with his church’s band. He’s putting together a step team. He’s even cut his first CD. “He’s a really lovable person. He doesn’t meet a stranger,” says his mother, Sandra. “He really wants to get into the music business.”
In May of 2009, those plans had to be put on hold. Doctors found something else in Jabari’s blood, leukemia. “I was like, he’s never been sick other than the common cold. When the doctor came in and said he has leukemia, he has cancer my heart stopped for a minute and I thought it cant be.”
Jay’s HOPE Foundation’s founder, Cindy Gaskins, met Sandra nearly three months later and spoke to her in the halls of the hospital. “She said, ‘I know what its like.’ At the time, I didn’t know she had lost her son to cancer as well,” Sandra remembers. “She kept saying, ‘I understand’ and I kept telling her, ‘No you don’t. You don’t know how I feel.’”
Because of their hour and a half drive to the hospital, Sandra and Jabari were often in need of temporary housing. “Cindy asked, ‘Would you be interested in staying here?’” referring to the Jay’s HOPE apartment.
Sandra and Jabari started staying at the apartment Jay’s HOPE provides as temporary housing for out-of-town families. The location is within walking distance to the Medical center of Central Georgia. She quickly came to know just how much Cindy knew about her struggles. Now she can’t imagine this journey without the Jay’s HOPE foundation in her life.
“It would be a struggle. It would be a big struggle. They’ve been there,” she admits. Recently when faced with auto repairs, Sandra recalls, “ I didn’t have the money to get it fixed. They (Jay’s HOPE) said just take it to the shop and we’ll have it fixed.” Sandra says when her car kept giving her problems the organization helped her come up with a down payment for another one.
After Jabari’s last treatment, Sandra had prayed leukemia was a thing of the past, but in August 2011 they found out he had relapsed. This time, she says they knew exactly where to turn for support. “I’ve had (Jay’s HOPE) moms spend an hour with me while he was getting treatment and we just laugh and talk. I’ve learned how to open up to others since we started. Jay’s HOPE has made me a whole lot stronger. They are my home away from home.“
For the last 2 ½-years, cancer has been a common word in the Henry household, but thankfully so have the words Jay’s HOPE.