After being diagnosed with brain cancer, our son, Jaxon, spent his 4th birthday at the MD Anderson Proton Therapy Center.
Our world had changed just a few months earlier when Jaxon began having seizures. When doctors found a cancerous tumor, we researched treatment options and discovered proton therapy would be the best for Jaxon.
Jaxon's cancer journey
Jaxon spent his time at the Proton Therapy Center wearing a smile, riding a tricycle around the waiting room, or making wishes in the fountain. After Jaxon hit the gong to mark his last day of proton therapy treatment, we surprised him with a tricycle identical to the one he'd spent countless hours on in the waiting room.
Jaxon had always had a heart of gold, even before his brain tumor diagnosis. When he was 2 years old, he received a toy he already had. He chose to keep the old toy for himself and give the nicer, new one to another kid.
That same spirit of giving came out throughout his brain tumor treatment. When Jaxon told me he wanted to bring gifts to the other children at the Proton Therapy Center, we came up with the idea for welcome bags. Since Jaxon's counts were often too low for public outings, he'd tell us what to get or pick things out in catalogs for us to order for the kids. We began gathering fun blankets, toys, CDs, movies and more and assembled them into welcome gifts for kids arriving for proton therapy treatment. When his counts were finally high enough between his high dose chemo treatments, Jaxon enthusiastically delivered welcome gifts to other little proton warriors.
Unfortunately, Jaxon's disease progressed. But even on hospice care, he continued to work to spread smiles to kids arriving for proton therapy. His deficits from the disease didn't stop his heart of gold. Even when Jaxon lost his vision, he still chanted "blanket, blanket" and had me help him feel along the holes to make a no-sew blanket for a fellow pediatric patient. In November 2012, at just 5-and-a-half years old, Jaxon took his last breath on earth and his first in Heaven.
As my husband and I watched our child fight for his life, we were amazed with his passion to serve others in the midst of his own battle. Regardless of diagnosis or deficits, Jaxon was able to find joy and spread it. He taught us that joy doesn't come from our circumstances but from within.
We never would have chosen this journey, but now that we are here we choose to do our best to spread some light and love to those walking a similar road. Following our son's lead, we choose to work through our grief and focus on bringing joy to others.
Helping pediatric proton therapy patients
Even though Jaxon is no longer here to deliver welcome gifts to kids arriving for proton treatment, our family has continued the work he started. We have been able to donate more than 450 welcome bags through the nonprofit created in his memory, Jaxon's F.R.O.G. Foundation. Each is filled with a blanket, games, toys, puzzles, movies, CDs, and anything else we think will brighten the day for a child with cancer arriving for proton treatment.
Jaxon taught us that no matter what your situation, everyone has the ability to spread kindness. Maybe it's a smile or hug for someone anxiously awaiting their doctor's appointment, a friendly conversation with someone walking the journey alone, or a welcome bag for another arriving for treatment. Whatever it may be, we encourage you to do something. Like us, you just might find that giving really is the best medicine!