SYRACUSE — The experience of a family whose child has been diagnosed with cancer didn’t leave many with dry eyes. Additionally, the family shared what the Cancer Care Fund of Kosciusko County has done for them at the Cancer Care Fund of Kosciusko County Cocktails for Cancer. The event was held Saturday evening, June 18, at the Ruddell Pavilion at the Levinson-LaBrosse Lakes and Wetlands Education Center of the Wawasee Area Conservancy Foundation, Syracuse.
Several hundred attended the two-hour event and helped raise nearly $15,000 through the purchase of a number of auction items.
David Roe, Warsaw, along with his wife, Justine; youngest son, Asher; and Jett, were present to share their story of Jett being diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia. Telling their story and remembering the journey brought out emotions in David, Jett and Justine.
David spoke of the national statistics — 46 parents are told daily that their child has cancer, daily seven children lose the battle and 74 percent of the survivors suffer complications or have major affects from treatments and are at higher risk of a secondary cancer later on. David said, “parents are left emotionally and financially depleted. This is our story of childhood cancer and how the CCF has allowed us to focus on our battle with this childhood disease and not fight it alone. The main warrior in the story is our 7-year-old son, Jett.”
David shared the emotional journey from the symptoms they attributed to coming down with a summer cold or just being a 5 ½ year-old boy, until the night they almost lost him and hearing the diagnosis. He spoke of the blood transfusions, testing, surgery, chemotherapy, spinal taps that occurred over a 29-day period before Jett went into remission. He shared the trips to Riley and the continued maintenance base treatments, which will continue until November 2017.
“He has exceeded everyone’s expectations and excelled at school. He’s in coach pitch (softball) this year with a goal of never missing a game and working hard to do so,” said David.
David noted at first they had told themselves they didn’t need help. But after a few months, medication expenses, trips to Riley and taking a leave of absence from work, took its toll.
He explained the ease of getting “the ball rolling” and how fund officials have made it a seamless process. “It has given us a peace of mind financially with the stress cancer brings to our family on a daily basis.
“It eases our mind. It means the world to us not only because it eases the stress, but allows us to direct personal funds toward other areas. We never know when Jett will come down with a fever or come down with something. Then it’s an unexpected trip back to the emergency room. It has allowed him to enjoy his favorite activities: coach pitch, playing basketball, attending camps. The CCF has afforded us the ability to make sure Jett can be a normal kid. We can’t thank them enough for all they’ve done for us.”
Jett is the grandson of former Milford resident Jennifer Bender and great-grandson of Richard and the late Annie Bender, both Milford residents and former teachers at Milford Schools.