This photo is Jessica and Emerson, mother and son, on the day of Emerson's kindergarten graduation this last May, during Emerson's treatment for brain cancer at St. Jude's Children’s Hospital. Jessica was by Emerson’s side, for the first symptoms, for the scary diagnosis, for surgery and radiation and therapies, then for his graduation held 700 miles away from home. Jessica was always there, sleeping in uncomfortable hospital chairs, researching his condition and the impossible choices, missing meals and showers, never leaving Emerson alone, no matter how hard each day might be.
Six months later, Emerson was declared cancer free, and he returned to playing with legos and riding his bike.
Going into the fall, with more than ever to be grateful for, Jessica’s own unexplained symptoms grew worse. On Thanksgiving Day, Jessica was diagnosed with stage 4 mantle cell lymphoma. Today, on New Year's Day, the family is trying to feel hopeful, but Jessica is in the hospital with complications, with only two rounds of chemo complete.
Jessica has not asked for help during this past year. She is much more comfortable being the one to help others. But at this point, there are financial concerns. Jessica is a single Mom and a special education teacher. She has lost income from her time off with Emerson’s illness and again with her own. Her chemo schedule won’t allow her to return to work this school year. She is lucky, because she has insurance, disability and FMLA (especially lucky because St. Jude’s was free), but there are gaps in coverage and income that are hard to overcome on a teacher’s salary.
[UPDATE 1/16 - Because of two cancer experiences in a 12-month period, Jessica's FMLA will run out and she will lose her AISD insurance.]
The second photo is Emerson at the finish line at the St. Jude's Marathon (kid's version) last November. This race isn't over yet.
Jessica’s friends and co-workers put this site together to raise money for Jessica’s and Emerson's expenses (Emerson still has quarterly trips to St. Jude's). If you can contribute, and share with others who might be able to help, we would appreciate it very much.
With hope for a better new year,
Carol Ramsey and Jennifer Murray
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