According to his mom, Ashley, three-year-old Kyler is “all boy.” He likes to play any sport, and the family enjoys spending time in the yard hitting baseballs or swinging the golf club. But Kyler doesn’t need sports equipment to have fun outside; he is just as happy “digging in the dirt.” This energetic, resilient, strong-willed little boy also has a loving father, Steven, and a twelve-year-old big brother, Christian.
Before being diagnosed with cancer, Kyler was like many preschool children. He went to daycare, attended Chick-fil-A kids’ nights, and looked forward to family fun every weekend. In mid-October 2017, Kyler began having low-grade fevers in the evening. Then he started waking up at night with severe leg pain. Nothing seemed to bring relief, so his parents took him to his pediatrician. Within two weeks, Kyler was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL), the most common childhood cancer. After a week in the hospital and several clinic visits, Kyler’s family began trying to develop a “new norm” for their son.
Ashley says that one of the most difficult parts of their journey so far is taking Kyler for his regular checkups and treatments. Port access is uncomfortable and frightening for him, and spending an entire day at the clinic, often without their child being able to eat or drink due to tests and procedures, is mentally and emotionally exhausting for his parents.
This is where Jay’s HOPE steps in. Our organization is connected to newly diagnosed families through hospital social workers and child life specialists—and sometimes through mutual friends. Two of our staff members went to meet Kyler during his first week after diagnosis, bringing a care package, gas and meal cards, gifts for Kyler, and a healthy dose of emotional support and friendship.
“When you have a cancer child,” Ashley says, “it is difficult to go out and be active like you were before.” For her family, the most important gift from Jay’s HOPE is that we remind families of the importance of having fun together as a family, and we also provide monthly opportunities for them to do that, such as bowling night, farm day, and our annual Easter egg hunt. Ashley says that Jay’s HOPE is just as much a part of Kyler’s treatment plan as his clinic visits and medical therapies.
Thanks to community supporters like you, we can continue to offer these services to families like Kyler’s. When you sign up to enjoy a day of golf with your buddies at our annual Jay’s HOPE Classic, you are making a real difference for Kyler and hundreds of other children in the childhood cancer battle.