JayLee was diagnosed with Leukemia on April 21, 2011, just one month shy of her 5th birthday.
After going through several different avenues to try and figure out what was causing her many urinary tract infections, swollen lymph nodes, easy bruising and the severe pain in her joints, doctors suggested she receive a bone marrow biopsy to make sure it wasn’t Leukemia.
“JayLee, her brother Bryce, her sister KayDee and I went expecting to do the biopsy and go home,” explained JayLee’s mom, Danyel. “When she came out of the biopsy, her body went crazy. It wouldn’t stop bleeding and she spiked a fever, so they wouldn’t let us leave. An hour later, a doctor, social worker and child life specialist came into the room and spoke the words I’ll never forget: it was Leukemia.”
JayLee was admitted to Blank’s Children’s Hospital and began treatment the following morning.
Shortly after, she received her very own Chemo Duck to accompany her throughout her cancer journey.
“She loved Chemo Duck the second she got him. She immediately put on the bandana so she could match him,” said Danyel. “She carried him around all day talking to him and telling him they were going to do this together. I remember her telling him that it hurts sometimes but she would help him feel better.”
Throughout the entire process, JayLee loved that Chemo Duck could go through all the procedures with her and most of the time before her so she could see what it would be like.
JayLee recently celebrated the fact that she is five years off treatment! She took her last chemo pills on June 24, 2013. And even though she is in the clear, her friendship with Chemo Duck continues to be as strong as ever.
“She is 12 years old now and still sleeps with Chemo Duck every night,” said Danyel. “She still takes him to sleepovers and camp, too. I love the fact that she had a friend to go through that with her.”
While JayLee loves to snuggle with her Chemo Duck, she also enjoys staying active and can oftentimes be found playing basketball, swimming or playing with crafts.
When asked what advice she would give to other parents who are dealing with childhood cancer, JayLee’s mom Danyel shared,
“There will be good days and bad days (honestly more bad than good), but enjoy every moment you have. Treatment can be rough but there is a light at the end of the tunnel.
I found that the biggest help we found was with friends and family. I wanted to do it all on my own even though so many people offered to help. Even though it is your child, it takes a strong support system to help you get through it all.
And make sure to make time for all of your family, spouse and other children, if you have them. Everything thinks your cancer child needs the most attention, but honestly your other children and spouse are just as scared and probably feel even lonelier.”
Thank you, Danyel and JayLee, for sharing your story. We are so happy to hear that Chemo Duck is now a permanent fixture in your family!