Jake is a sweet and very funny gentle boy. He is loving, still holds my hand, hugs me, and tells me that he loves me every day. He’s a lover of history, the military and gaming. He enjoys imaginary play and making people laugh. Although he’s only 11, he’s got an old and wise soul. His dream is to become a medic in the US Army and retire as a history professor.
On September 13, 2019, Jake had an appointment at the pediatrician for something unrelated. As soon as the doctor saw the swelling around Jake’s left eye, we were sent straight to the hospital and within days our world was flipped upside when he was originally diagnosed with stage 3 Rhabdomyosarcoma. Days later and upon further testing, his diagnosis changed to Ewing’s Sarcoma, another aggressive cancer that attacks the bones and soft tissue. Jake’s treatment was physically excruciating and emotionally exhausting.
Jake’s treatment consisted of 11 months of chemotherapy and 6 weeks of proton beam radiation. His chemotherapy was both inpatient and outpatient and consisted of vincristine, doxorubicin, cyclophosphamide, ifosfamide and etoposide. In between hospital stays, Jake frequently developed episodes of fever while neutropenic, resulting in 3-to-7-day hospitalizations between cycles of chemotherapy. During his harsh chemo and radiation treatment, Jake suffered from side effects such as mouth sores, vomiting, extreme fatigue and weight loss. Even though his treatment is complete, Jake still deals with lasting side effects and runs the risks of reoccurrence and secondary cancer. He has also been diagnosed with GAD (Generalized Anxiety Disorder) and PTSD Posttraumatic Stress Disorder).
A few months into treatment the rising of the Covid Pandemic changed everything. Hospital stays became boring without visitors, fun activities and the use of the playroom ceased. It was at this time that the SebastianStrong Foundation entered our lives. Oscar and Rose embraced us with so much love, compassion and hope. They sent Jake and his warrior friends toys and activities to do while at the hospital, making the stays easier. They are involved in countless fundraisers benefiting children’s cancer research as well as providing distractions for us, the parents and caregivers of these warriors. Events such as KC2 (Kayaking to Cure Kids Cancer) and Cooking for Hope have not only helped raise funding, but have also brought together a community of like minded people while simultaneously raising awareness. Their foundation is admirable and we stand beside them as they raise awareness of childhood cancers and help fund research for less toxic, more modern treatments and cures. We love them!
Marisel Jarrin Kleppen