Family 1: The Wesley Jaeger Family
Who is Wesley and what is life like without him?
Wesley Jaeger, Born 6/3/2004, Died 8/19/2012. Wesley was diagnosed with Medulloblastoma August 31st, 2008. I don't remember what life was like before Cancer. Wesley had Cancer for just shy of 4 years. He passed away at the age of 8. The longest time he was in remission was 6 months. Not that we were even close to 100% for any part of that 6 months. Wesley spent three of those months relearning to walk.
For initial treatment we stayed at our local hospital. After he relapsed, we traveled for treatment. We spent so much time in New York that we were AirTran Elite fliers. What 6 year old child do you know that is a premium flier on any airline? After New York, we went to St. Jude. After St. Jude, we went to Helen DeVos in Michigan. Then we went home....
What is life like without him?
Well, it sucks. No parent is going to say any different. I do feel that we are handling it better then most. We had a full two and a half years with Wesley post relapse. Many are lucky if they get even 12 months. I still have not gone back to work. I have no desire to work in the manufacturing sector anymore. I am heavily thinking about going back to school for something medical. Wesley would have wanted it that way.
Family 2: The Zeke Dutcher Family
What the Jayden Lamb Foundation means to us...... We first started talking to the Lamb family last summer. Out of the blue, I received a letter from Tom extending condolences for the loss of our son, he said he/they understood completely, as they had lost theirs to cancer also. We had heard of Jayden before, online, with all the Pay It Forward things happening, but we had never met at the hospital. Then, Tom and Nicole offered to send us on a trip. WHAT?!? Who does that? At first, we thought we should say no, other people deserve it more, or need it more, but then we realized they CHOSE to be honored by their son's memory. What a HUGE and beautiful thing! We decided on Disney, so our 6 yr old, Emma, could have a trip of her own, like her brother had his Make A Wish trip. The Lambs are amazing people, and everyone on the Foundation too. The travel agent, Jamie, from WDW Guru, was fantastic! She asked us what we wanted, then she did it all for us - she and another WDW Guru, Jenn, had the days planned for us from sun up to WAY past sun down - Emma couldn't keep up. She had an awesome time, we all did! It was bittersweet though, being on our first trip without Zeke, the only reason we qualified for the trip was because he had died. When you think of it that way, it's hard to go anywhere! But we have a long life ahead of us. Emma has even longer, and needs to learn that it's ok to have fun and enjoy life. It's awful (to put it mildly) that her brother had to go through everything he did and that he died at age 3 1/2. So, Jayden Lamb Memorial Foundation gave us an opportunity to go play, leave the worries at home, and just have fun. HEALING starts with smiling and laughing, not forgetting your son, but knowing that he wouldn't want you to be sad all the time or to feel guilty for it. He liked laughing and being silly as much as the next 3 year old, so he would be glad that we were able to do that. Someone asked me the other day how Zeke is, obviously not knowing he died almost a year ago. After the shock of the question, and telling them he died last May, I said, "He's good though, he's in Heaven with God, will never have cancer again!" Really, he's where we all aspire to be.... God truly has blessed us, many, many positive things have come from all the bad. Obviously, we would much rather our son be here, but since we can't dwell on that, we choose to be grateful for everything else. We are eternally grateful to the Jayden Lamb Memorial Foundation for giving us the opportunity to go play and have fun.
Family 3: The Caden Brown Family
We are forever thankful for the blessing that the Jayden Lamb Memorial Foundation donated to our family. Having that time together to create memories and to strengthen our family bond is priceless. We were able to spend quality time together as a whole, and although still grieving the loss of our son and brother Caden, we were able to rebuild hope in each other. Thank you Tom and Nicole, and the whole team for everything. We are eternally grateful.
Family 4: The Hailey Elton Family
This is our family. We lost our beautiful daughter, Hailey, to cancer in January 2015. The Jayden Lamb Memorial Foundation heard about us, and with loving and understanding hearts sent us on a family to get away to heal and to make some memories. We just got back from an amazing cruise to the Bahamas. We had a wonderful time. Lots of laughs, some tears as we were just missing one part of us, our beautiful Hailey. But we know she was there with us, smiling down and enjoying seeing us live, and that is what she would have wanted us to do. Thank you so much for sending us on this vacation, we enjoyed every day with the ones we love the most. God Bless you.