Alamo City Moms Blog is pleased to partner with nonprofits in the greater San Antonio area to further their missions, bring awareness to their causes, and share their resources with the community. If your organization is interested in participating as an ACMB Cares spotlight, see details and complete the application here.
My world was once what I’d call “normal,” where I was submerged into the beautifully chaotic life of our marriage adapting to the addition of young children. Balancing work, kids, the dreaded potty-training, and you know, things like getting those little cuties to bed without transforming into a T-Rex, all seemed liked life’s biggest hurdles, as I was blissfully unaware of the real trials that lie just ahead. Our 3.5-year-old son, Jaxon, started having seizures, which quickly led to the discovery of a brain tumor. No matter how many medicines we tried, the seizures were uncontrollable, with our son having 500 seizures in three months. This led us to brain surgery to remove the tumor, and to everyone’s surprise, a cancer diagnosis.
At the time I didn’t even realize there were so many types of brain cancer and that each had its own treatment plan. The chemo drugs’ likely side effects included things that, on their own, would be detrimental, but seemed to be the better alternative. Heart issues, hearing loss, secondary cancers, taking away my child’s ability to ever produce a life due to infertility caused by treatments, were all things I was willing to trade off at the expense of trying to save my child’s life. My 4-year-old had high-dose chemo with stem cell rescue, endured full brain and spine radiation, swallowed thousands of pills, received numerous blood and platelet transfusions, went under anesthesia more than 50 times, and spent as much time in the hospital as a healthy child would spend in a classroom.
Jaxon aptly named the hospital the “bed doctor,” and between chemo cycles and every chance he got, our son focused on ways he could help brighten the days for the other kids there. Whether it was delivering pillow pets and toys or writing Santa to bring certain items to kids receiving radiation, Jaxon’s heart was never far from his friends at the “bed doctor.” Once, when we took a family trip to the lake, instead of engaging in typical vacation activities our son requested we take him to Walmart to go shopping for the kids that were at the hospital unable to go on vacation. When Jaxon was on hospice care he began to have more deficits, including losing his mobility and vision, yet his heart was unwavering. One night he chanted “blanket, blanket” until I brought him some fabric and watched him feel the holes as he pulled through strands of material he could no longer see to make a no-sew blanket for a kid at the hospital.
When Jaxon’s cancer recurred we literally went down the list calling all the top hospitals in the country and were told our child might as well be the first case, as they’d never successfully treated a child with a recurrence of his cancer type. His original treatment plan had been a collaborative effort by three of the top 10 hospitals for pediatric cancer, and yet it wasn’t enough. It’s hard to make headway against a disease when only 4% of the National Cancer Institute funding goes to children. This means that the amount of money Americans spend on Starbucks in a 10-day period is roughly equal to what our government invests in childhood cancer in an entire year. Only three new drugs have been approved for childhood cancer in the past 38 years, compared to hundreds of new drugs for adult cancers. It’s no wonder every week the equivalent of two classrooms of children die of cancer in our country, and on November 25, 2012, our son Jaxon was one of them.
Although Jaxon is no longer with us, his giving spirit lives on through the ministry he helped start while here on earth. Jaxon’s FROG Foundation is our nonprofit dedicated to supporting those impacted by childhood cancer. We are an all-volunteer nonprofit, allowing us to maximize donations to provide the following programs:
- Back to School—provide backpacks, supplies, and gift cards for hospital families identified by the social workers as needing extra support
- Cure for Kids—invest thousands of dollars each year in childhood cancer research
- Courageous Kids—distribute hundreds of “I Am Courageous” CDs with uplifting songs created by Justin Graves Band for children fighting big battles
- Escape to Fun—treat families to special events to build memories outside the hospital, such as Natural Bridge Wildlife Ranch, Morgan’s Wonderland, a private fall festival, and other fun outings.
- Firefly—sponsored first camp in Texas specifically for families that have lost a child to cancer and provide events for this group throughout the year to build a support community
- Holiday Support—provide Thanksgiving feasts, Christmas gifts wish list, and holiday gift cards for parents
- Hope for Hospice—provide bags with Captured on Canvas art supplies to make keepsakes, a snuggle buddy stuffed animal, and other comfort items for children in hospice care, as well as memory makers to help grant a final wish and funeral assistance
- Playroom Projects—sponsored playrooms for cancer kids at Methodist and University Hospitals
- Spreading Smiles—invest in interactive floor sponsorships, smile bag deliveries throughout the year, wall decals to decorate hospital rooms and more
- Welcome Gifts for Warriors—provide fun-filled backpacks for children arriving for proton radiation
If Jaxon could see beyond his own cancer battle to serve these precious children, surely there is something each of us can do. Remember, there is no age minimum for kindness. I encourage you to find ways to lead your children in supporting other kids going through a difficult situation, whether that be cancer or something else. If you’d like to learn more about our foundation, please visit us at www.jaxonsfrogfoundation.com or follow us at www.facebook.com/teamjaxonfrog.