I am thankful and blessed to be called “Mom” by two amazing boys. God gave me my first child, Chandler, in 1999. He is 19 now. My youngest son, Will, was born in October 2006. But Mother’s Day is bittersweet for me. When Will was 6 months old, on Mother’s Day morning around 2 AM after a trip to the ER and a CT scan, we were told that he had a mass on his brain. Amid shock and disbelief, our journey with a cancer kid began. Will had his first major brain surgery a month later. Six months after this, an MRI scan showed that the tumor had grown larger than before surgery.
At 17 months old, Will began an 18-month chemotherapy regimen at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis, Tennessee. But his tumor grew once again. He had another major brain surgery to remove part of the tumor and started a new chemotherapy protocol. The tumor didn’t show signs of decreasing, so an additional chemo medicine was added. He has endured two bouts of hydrocephalus, when his spinal fluid began to back up in his head. Both instances required surgery to place catheters and drains.
Will began a new chemotherapy treatment in a clinical trial in November 2016, but after 15 months of treatment, an MRI showed that his tumor had grown steadily. In March 2018 he had his fourth major brain surgery to remove part of the tumor and began a new study drug. He will take this medicine two times a day for the next two years as long as his body tolerates it.
In spite of his many challenges, Will, now age 11, loves to hunt and fish and is an avid knife collector. He loves camo and the Georgia Bulldogs! He wants to be a fireman when he grows up so he can help people. He loves trucks and tractors and has talked for years about the jacked-up truck he will get when he turns 16—even after we were told that he will never be able to drive due to permanent vision loss in his eye.
At the beginning of Will’s cancer journey, there were times when I was in denial and didn’t want to accept it, but then I went into protective mode and have been there for the last twelve years. Cindy Gaskins and Jay’s HOPE were with us from the start. The love and support shown to us have been invaluable. Jay’s HOPE has provided gas cards, lunch cards, and fun family events. The staff has helped with bills that were adding up as well as with emotional support through phone calls, text messages, prayer, and just being there to give advice and answer questions when we didn’t know what to do.
One of my favorite experiences is when Jay’s HOPE moms have our own times away from everything to be with other mothers just like us—to get emotionally and spiritually uplifted and prayed for. We also share lots of laughs together! Our family will forever be grateful for the love and support of our Jay’s HOPE family.