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 – Ellora

Months before a clear diagnosis, Ellora was experiencing a loss of appetite, night sweats, and oversleeping. For Ellora, these symptoms were seen as normal for her or seen as natural changes in the growth of a 2-year-old. Eventually, she developed little spots on her hands and unexplained bruises on her body, which the doctors deemed Idiopathic Thrombocytopenic Purpura (ITP), but after seeing an informative TikTok video on the symptoms Ellora was experiencing, her mom’s gut told her it was something more than a bleeding disorder.

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Meet Keaton’s Kiddo – Samerah

14-year-old Samerah, best known as Sam has been battling quite the challenging journey, but with the love and support of her family, friends, and community she has been able to overcome so much. At the very young age of 2 months old, Sam was diagnosed with Neurofibromatosis. Neurofibromatosis is not an isolated disorder. It causes several different conditions and can lead to the development of tumors on the brain, spine, and the nerves that send signals between the brain and spinal cord.

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Meet Keaton’s Kiddo – Pedro

Strong and optimistic Keaton’s Kiddo Pedro has a heart for soccer and music, and he absolutely loves Chick-Fil-A! Being a teen at just 14 years old, Pedro was sadly diagnosed with a brain tumor called Juvenile Pilocytic Astrocytoma. Hear about Pedro’s journey from his point of view.

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