Monday, November 19, 2012

Jarren Fogle's Inspiring Story

It only takes about ten seconds with Jarren Fogle to see that nothing— including his diagnosis with medulloblastoma— will slow him down.  Diagnosed earlier this summer at age two, Jarren started his treatment with surgery and three rounds of chemo in Madera.  But when a stem cell transplant and high-dose chemo were needed, he was transferred to UCSF Benioff Children's Hospital to finish his treatment.

Jarren is a bundle of energy, with an infectious smile that he hides behind his hands during a lively game of "peek-a-boo".  He snuggles up to his mom, Danielle, on a cozy chair in the Family House living room.  When asked about their time in the house, Danielle lights up.  After being secluded for three months in a hospital room in Madera, she was nervous to move into a house with other families.  But her worries were relieved once she arrived.  "It's a blessing to have the security, knowing that you have somewhere to stay when you're going through tough times like this."

Danielle instantly noticed a difference in her son once his tumor was removed— he began reciting his numbers and colors, even naming shapes that Danielle swears she never taught him!  These days, he’s got plenty to talk about, including all the details of his third birthday.  Jarren celebrated at Family House on November 14th, complete with a Mickey Mouse cake and a visit from his dad and grandma.  Next week, Jarren and Danielle hope to take a road trip to celebrate Thanksgiving at the home of another family who were living at Family House when they moved in.

Today, all traces of his tumor are gone.  And although he has a few more months of treatment, Danielle sees the light at the end of the tunnel and looks forward to her next chapter with a happy, healthy son.  “Most people never meet their hero,” she says, “but I gave birth to mine.”

Click here to learn more about Family House families: 

Sunday, November 11, 2012

A World Record Achieved: The Anderson Family Story

Erin Anderson admires the strength of her daughter, Haven, calling her "a Marine in a two-year old’s body."  Haven was diagnosed with stage four neuroblastoma on April 17, 2012, just two weeks after her second birthday. Treatment began in her hometown of Denver, Colorado, but she arrived at UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital after her first round of chemo proved unsuccessful.

Haven is currently undergoing a groundbreaking two week treatment at UCSF— something that has never been performed on a child her age.  Erin feels blessed to have access to this level of care for her daughter.  Upon arriving at Family House she felt immediate relief because it feels like home to her family and allows them to be incredibly close to the hospital at all times.  She loves getting to know everyone at Family House.  “It feels like a little family because everyone is going through what you’re going through.”

One thing Haven has to look forward to when she goes home to Denver: recognition for a world record achieved in her name!  Erin’s colleagues, family, and friends created a fundraising event called “Shavin' for Haven”, which began on a small scale this May.  Erin’s fellow teachers pledged to shave their heads if they could meet their fundraising goals for Haven’s treatment.  After the fundraiser’s success, they applied to the Guinness Book of World Records and took the idea to a larger scale on October 22nd.  The Andersons blew the previous record out of the water and shaved 371 heads in one hour, all in honor of their incredible daughter.

Erin and her husband are so relieved to have all the resources that Family House offers— they don't have to worry about where they'll be able to shower, eat, and take a much-needed deep breath between stints at the hospital. As for their daughter? “This is not a kind of cancer you ever want to have,” Erin explains, “But we are incredibly hopeful and faithful that this will be a positive outcome for Haven.”

Click here to learn more about Family House families: