Sunday, October 23, 2011

Pablove Across America 2011 Day 16 Evening Dedication: Jakob Aldrich

Jake was a regular 4 year old boy who loves playing with legos and riding his bike. He was also one of the 300 children diagnosed with rhabdomyosarcoma, a type of soft tissue cancer, in 2005. At the time of diagnosis he was found to be stage 4 as it had spread from his testicle to his lungs and bone marrow. After only 3 months of chemo there were no signs of cancer. He finished his 12 month protocol and was in remission. Unfortunately the cancer returned in his lungs 3 months later. January 2007 we were overjoyed to find out we were pregnant with our daughter, Avery, just a week before Jake relapsed. Another 12 months of chemo and 2 weeks of radiation to the chest ending in March 2008. We celebrate remission again. Still remaining hopeful we have beat it one more time. We had the best summer in 2008. Jake started soccer, swim lessons and baseball. Little did we know it would be his last summer with us. It is now September 2008, the week of Jake's 7th birthday, and we find out the cancer has returned again in his lungs for the 3rd time. This did not stop Jake from playing soccer. One afternoon, as I watched him during practice, running back and forth on the field and thought to myself -- this kid has cancer spreading through his lungs and look at him go! This was the way we lived with cancer. It was not going to stop us from living. It was our new normal. At this point we are running out of options. Discussing clinic trials out of state versus staying home and enjoying the remaining time we have left with each other. The cancer was spreading into new areas so we opted to stay home. I did not want to take the chance of Jake dying in another state, away from his family and friends. Jake had an ileostomy in February 2009 and we spent 35 days inpatient. This was the first time I could tell things were taking a toll in Jake. The pain he endured was the most excruciating I have ever seen. One night, Dad and I were in Jake's hospital bed, crying because we felt helpless. Our son was in pain, the meds were not helping. We leaned in for a family hug, which we did often, and Jake said to us.... Don't cry, I will be okay. Jake was comforting us even while he was in pain. He was far more mature beyond his 7 years. We came home February 28th for hospice. Jake spent hours and days building lego kits. His fingers moved so fast, it was amazing. Days at the table building legos turned into days on the couch, then to our bed where he remained in a medicated coma. On March 24th 2009 Jake died in my arms. Cancer took his last breath. Written by Jennifer Aldrich, Jake's mom

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