September is National Childhood Cancer Awareness Month. Join us today, September 29, 2009 as CURE Childhood Cancer honors CURE Kid Jessie Claire Churchwell. Join our fight as CURE’s Kids Conquer Cancer One Day at a Time! Donate Jessie Claire’s Fund.
Jessie Claire Churchwell’s Story:
Meet our sweet little Jessie Claire. She is only two years old and has been battling cancer for 8 months now. However, her story begins when she was only 10 weeks old and diagnosed with Neurofibromatosis Type I (NFI). This is an unpredictable genetic disorder that can cause tumors to grow any place on the central nervous system at any time. Due to the diagnosis of NFI, Jessie Claire requires MRI’s on a yearly basis.
Last Christmas Jessie Claire was 16 months old and like all parents, we were looking forward to seeing the excitement in her face when she woke to find toys under the Christmas tree. Not even 24 hours before beginning Christmas festivities, we received the devastating news that the latest MRI revealed Jessie Claire has a brain tumor located along her optic pathway. When you hear that someone’s child has cancer, your heart breaks. When your own child has cancer, your heart is shattered. Fortunately, the excitement and joy experienced by Jessie Claire Christmas morning saved us from even more tears and feelings of desperation. It’s that same daily joy and excitement of our precious toddler that wills us to greet her each morning with a smile even when we have spent the night crying for her.
In February Jessie Claire had surgery to implant a port and received her first dose of chemotherapy the same day. She would receive chemo treatments once a week with some scheduled breaks. The entire process would last a year. Jessie Claire’s battle against cancer was on and we were given hope that chemo would work and Jessie Claire would not go blind.
During the induction phase, Jessie Claire was a sick little one who had many days consisting of fevers, vomiting, refusing to eat, lots of tears, and many hours in our arms. At the end of these first three months, Jessie Claire had experienced five ER visits, one brief hospital stay, and significant weight loss.
After the induction phase, Jessie Claire had a MRI that revealed the tumor had almost doubled in size. All hope that our daughter would not go blind was lost. Panic set in like never before and we were faced with a difficult decision, stay on the current treatment plan or change to a chemo called Vinblastine. Reportedly, Vinblastine has less harsh side effects than the previous chemo. However, it does not have the research studies behind it to track its success rate. Two oncologists said changing the treatment plan was a good option but recommended continuing the current path of treatment. As a parent, how do you allow your child to continue receiving a drug that makes her extremely sick and does not seem to work? But what if you request to change the treatment and your daughter goes blind? After many sleepless nights and lots of prayer, the decision was made, change to Vinblastine.
The change in chemo also meant starting over from the very beginning receiving treatments once a week for 54 weeks with no scheduled breaks. However, Jessie Claire has been maintaining and gaining weight and she doesn’t get as sick as in the past. Jessie Claire is a brave little trooper who enjoys her weekly visits to the clinic. Our little social butterfly runs around the clinic greeting everyone with a huge smile and big “hi”. When it’s time to leave she runs around the clinic again informing everyone “Yay! All done!”
After only eight treatments, Jessie Claire had a fourth MRI. Praise God, the tumor has reduced in size from 25 percent to 50 percent! With about 11 months of treatment left, our sweet little Jessie Claire still has a long and difficult path ahead, but now we have hope!
About September & CURE’S Kids Conquer Cancer One Day at a Time:
September is recognized as National Childhood Cancer Awareness Month. This September, CURE Childhood Cancer has committed to raising awareness and raising money to help find a cure for childhood cancer in our lifetime and put an end to this terrible disease through a special program CURE’s Kids Conquer Cancer One Day at a Time!
Please help us in our goal of raising $30,000 in the month of September while honoring special CURE kids each day of the month who have been affected by childhood cancer.
For more information, please click here.
About CURE Childhood Cancer:
Founded in 1975, CURE Childhood Cancer is dedicated to conquering childhood cancer through research, education and support of patients and their families. Since its establishment as a grass-roots organization, CURE has focused its efforts on improving the care, quality of life, and survival rate of children with cancer.
The founders, parents and a dedicated pediatric oncologist, joined forces to support laboratory research that would translate into immediate care for children with cancer.
Since that time, CURE has raised millions of dollars to fund cutting edge research at the Aflac Cancer Center Blood Disorders Service at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta and Emory University School of Medicine.
Through innovative programming, CURE also provides support for stricken families, providing them comfort and support during their time of devastating need.
Donate Jessie Claire’s Fund
Visit us online at www.curechildhoodcancer.org for more information.