My son, Michael, was diagnosed with osteosarcoma in December 2017 during his freshman year of high school. Within two weeks he was beginning chemotherapy, and in April 2018 he underwent surgery. He had limb salvage surgery to remove the tumor, along with a portion of his leg, which was replaced with a metal rod. Then he returned to continue chemotherapy treatment for nineteen more weeks.
Like many cancer warriors, Michael was brave throughout the process and never complained. But for him, and the rest of our family, cancer definitely altered our definition of normal. Being bald and frail, using a mask to prevent catching a virus, going through physical therapy, enduring chemo, and using crutches all became my son’s new normal.
Michael missed his friends, but then we were introduced to Jay’s HOPE and invited to attend Camp HOPE 4 Kids with Cancer that summer. It was a chance for Michael to be with other teens who knew what he was going through. It was a break from taking trips to Atlanta for treatment and from catching up on school work so he wouldn’t have to repeat ninth grade. It was a chance to return to “normal”—a time without unwanted stares and feelings of not belonging. It was five days, but in that time, he formed friendships that will continue throughout his life.
We can’t thank the Jay’s HOPE Foundation enough for the smile that we saw on Michael’s face after camp and the stories he told about the fun and fellowship. Camp HOPE provides a week-long escape from this horrible disease. It’s for these reasons and many more that we hope you’ll consider supporting Camp HOPE and the many other programs offered to our local childhood cancer families through this wonderful organization.
Valerie Alvarez, Jay’s HOPE Mom