Posted on May 30, 2012 by Leigh
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.
Posted on May 24, 2012 by Leigh
A testimony from Makiya’s Mom:
At just 4 months old, our princess Makiya Kaleah Butts, was diagnosed on April 17, 2011 with acute lymphoblastic leukemia. To be honest I wasn’t even quite sure was leukemia was at the time. I mean I have donated and raised money for many of the cancer organizations but if you had asked me the day before I would have had to do some research before I could have answered you. I remember as the doctors were trying to explain everything to me I thought I was having some crazy dream . Once I concluded the alarm clock was not going to make a sound that would take away this anger and hurt and extremely scary situation I realized I had better start paying attention.
Makiya was never one to sleep often or sit still. She spent her days and most of her nights smiling, playing and in my arms. I don’t think I have ever seen a baby so happy. She went from laughing at her two sisters and pulling at her daddy’s hat to a very sick baby girl in just two days. We spent the majority of April through September at Scottish Rite in Atlanta. Makiya’s leukemia seldom ever responded to chemotherapy. In September, we learned her leukemia was actually getting worse with the treatments. I told the doctor to call St. Jude because we are not giving up. A week later we were at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital praying for a miracle. In October, she had a NK cell transplant and a stem cell transplant. I was honored to be her donor. I remembered the feeling of HOPE when she was in remission. Makiya battled many side effects after her transplant. She never gave up. She was the toughest and strongest person I have ever met. It was a very difficult journey, emotionally and physically. She was so strong and usually dealt with it all with a smile on her face. She and GOD gave me the strength I needed to handle everything. Makiya relapsed in January. God called her to walk with the angels in heaven on February 19, 2012.
Makiya’s sister’s Jasmine and Makayla, her father Dexter and myself give a special thanks to Cindy and the Jay’s Hope foundation. It’s nice to be able to speak with someone who may can grasp the idea of where our feelings are coming from. I was not able to work very much ever since Makiya was diagnosed and where I financially felt like a dead end was in my near future Jay’s Hope was able to show me the light. They even helped make sure my kids could feel Christmas when we all thought it was going to be impossible. Cindy has been a great friend. She has been around for a couple of our family events. I think we have all just started treating her like family.
Posted on November 30, 2011 by Leigh
In early June of this year our little boy, Riley, was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia. That 2:00 AM meeting with the doctor sent our family into a whirlwind. The next day was filled with more meetings, lots of visitors, hospital staff, counselors and caseworkers. We can’t even recall all that happened in those first few days, but we do remember someone leaving us with a baby blue tote bag full of all kinds of useful things; everything from information on childhood cancer and telephone numbers, to disinfecting wipes and Chap Stick.
Looking through the bag I thought, “Wow, someone has really thought of everything. ” That someone was the Jay’s HOPE Foundation. We decided to use that bag to carry all the things Riley needs when going for treatments. It carries his medical history along with masks and more disinfecting wipes. It carries everything he needs to fight his battle against cancer, just like Jay’s HOPE helps to carry through this difficult illness. Their personal experiences have given them the knowledge that is needed to help our family with the needs, expected and unexpected, which have arisen during our son’s treatments.
The emotional and financial support they have provided has been irreplaceable. Jay’s HOPE volunteers come and spend time with Riley, making arts and crafts that help to brighten up the hospital visits. They are friends to talk to whenever we need them. Cindy and everyone at Jay’s HOPE give so much of themselves to help the kids and families that cancer has affected and for that we are beyond grateful!
We are very blessed that Riley is doing well with his treatments. He is always singing and running, he has miles of energy and an enormous heart. I truly believe that is because of the care we are able to give him, and that is made possible by the care that Jay’s HOPE gives us, his parents.
Thank you for all of your support,
Raina, Jamie, Jaden and Riley
Posted on May 30, 2011 by Daniel
In partnership with the WT Anderson Foundation, Jay’s HOPE is improving the quality of care at The Children’s Hospital at the Medical Center of Central Georgia.
A generous grant from the WT Anderson Foundation has allowed the Jay’s HOPE Foundation to improve the quality of care at The Children’s Hospital at the Medical Center of Central Georgia. One improvement Jay’s HOPE has been able to provide is new fold out sofas in the inpatient oncology rooms that will provide a comfortable place for a caregiver to sleep. Additionally this grant has allowed Jay’s HOPE to bring the Beads of Courage program to The Children’s Hospital. The Beads of Courage program provides children the opportunity to tell their story through colorful beads as meaningful symbols of courage. Each bead represents a step along the way in the journey of childhood cancer, such as chemo treatments, radiation treatments, the loss of hair, or needle sticks.
Posted on May 30, 2011 by Daniel
In April, 2011, Five Star Automotive donated a new car to Jay’s HOPE, which will allow us to extend HOPE to even more families in Georgia who are battling childhood cancer. We are so grateful to the generosity of the Five Star family and we know that their gift will allow us to further the mission of Jay’s HOPE.