Hope, Strength, and Healing for families coping with a child cancer diagnosis

Meet Keaton’s Kiddo – Jessenia

At just 9 years old, in 2018, Jessenia’s childhood cancer journey began.

While getting ready to meet her new baby cousin at the hospital, Jessenia was getting into the car, when she suddenly turned pale and began gasping for air. Immediately, her mom called 911 and Jessenia was transferred to the ER by ambulance. After further tests, Jessenia was transferred to a local treatment hospital in the Sacramento area, and following more blood work, it was determined that Jessenia had cancer, and was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia.

Receiving the news of her diagnosis was very hard on Jessenia. Although she was only 9 years old, her mother shared that she still wondered if she had done something wrong, but her medical team was supportive and reassuring, letting Jessenia know that there was nothing she did that contributed to her unfortunate diagnosis. Following her diagnosis, Jessenia soon began treatment and received chemotherapy every few weeks. As many children, unfortunately, experience as a result of chemotherapy treatments, Jessenia struggled with hair loss but managed to cope thanks to the support from her loving mother, Patricia.

In 2022, Jessenia entered the maintenance phase of her journey, but since then has unfortunately relapsed, and is remaining strong, positive, resilient, and hopeful. There have been many difficult moments for Jessenia and her mom, who is her primary support, but they are both determined to “kick cancer’s butt” as her mom says. Since the beginning of Jessenia’s cancer journey, her mom has always remained by her side, in and out of the hospital, and at every treatment. She has managed to stay strong for Jessenia, despite the emotional toll it’s taken on her as a parent and caregiver, and has made many sacrifices to provide the best care for Jessenia to ensure she has all her basic needs met.

Since being referred to Keaton’s Child Cancer Alliance in 2019, our team has been able to support in many ways including a general financial grant upon initial diagnosis and relapse, gas cards to support with frequent commutes to treatment, food cards to provide nutritional aid, toiletry kits for inpatient care, snack packs to support with infusion treatments, a joy-filled Hope Chest to lift Jessenia’s spirits, and surprise hospital visits to share more joy and spend time with Jessenia. As with every family referred to our Family Navigator Program, our mission remains to provide love and support to Jessenia and her family, knowing that childhood cancer is a life-long journey. Jessenia’s Family Navigator, Cassie, looks forward to more check-ins and hospital visits with Jessenia and her mom as they continue their fight against pediatric cancer.

Meet Keaton’s Kiddo – MJ

May of 2021 started like any other month. Our family was enjoying the warm weather and spending time with friends and family. Unfortunately, May was the month that our world would change in a way we never expected.

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Meet Keaton’s Kiddo – Yazmine

During the week of July 17th, 2023, Yazmine hadn’t been herself.  She’d been running fevers on and off and wasn’t eating.  She had no energy and only wanted to sleep.  Then, on July 19th, her dad’s birthday, we decided that I would take her to the ER for a quick check up and be back in time to make a birthday dinner.  Little did we know everything would change on that day.  

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Meet Keaton’s Kiddo – Kodiak

In the Fall of 2023, Keaton’s Kiddo Kodiak was diagnosed with two rare and aggressive forms of cancer: Mixed Acute Myeloid Leukemia (AML) and Myelodysplastic Syndrome (MDS) also known as ‘preleukemia.’

Their journey began one year earlier, in the Fall of 2022, when Kodiak was struck with a series of different seasonal illnesses. Kodiak’s mom Tonya shares: “In September, he got COVID, and then in November it was the flu, and then December RSV.”

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