Journey of Hope: How Aurora Day Camp Revived Jackson and His Brothers

Jackson's Journey - Aurora Day Camp
When what looked like a rash with raspberry-type bruising appeared on her son Jackson, Rebecca was concerned, but not overly. Young children often get rashes and Jackson was only 2 years old at the time. Rebecca took Jackson to see their pediatrician, who took one look and knew this was out of his realm. “This is hematological – I can’t diagnose this,” the pediatrician said. “You need to go to the emergency room.”

Rebecca remembers thinking, “Hematological, can that be cancer? No way, not us. That won’t happen to us.” While Jackson seemed “too healthy” for something as life-threatening as cancer, Rebecca still couldn’t shake that smallest of possibilities as she and her husband, Cody, waited for Jackson’s blood results.

“We found blast cells in Jackson’s blood samples,” the doctor stated solemnly. “It hasn’t been verified yet, but this is indicative of leukemia.” And so, with Jackson’s diagnosis in June of 2021, the family’s cancer journey began. Throughout all of the surgeries, hospital stays, countless clinic trips and delays in treatment, Jackson continues to smile, play and run around like any other toddler. He is polite, loving and friendly, and has taught his family to realize that there is always a reason to smile and be happy. “We fight with positivity and optimism,” said Rebecca. “I am smiling because Jackson is smiling every day.”

Jackson’s older brothers, Cameron and Noah, were 13 and 7 at Jackson’s time of diagnosis. They had to be extra careful isolating themselves from COVID over the past few years, knowing the importance of keeping the virus out of their home for Jackson’s safety. “They have had to miss out on so much to protect their little brother from possible exposure and risk of infections,” Rebecca explained. That’s why last year, when the family learned of Sunrise’s Aurora Day Camp, it was extra exciting for Noah and Cameron to be able to go and socialize safely with other kids. Jackson’s blood counts were too low for him to join them last summer, but the experience was incredibly healing for his brothers.

“We cannot express how grateful we are for what last summer at Aurora did for Noah and Cameron, who have been so patient and brave and strong, and many times [were] overlooked in all of this,” said Rebecca.

“As any family with multiple children knows, a cancer diagnosis doesn’t just affect the diagnosed child. It demands sacrifices from the entire family. Aurora Day Camp brought my boys back to life with just pure love and joy!”

The boys were elated to attend camp again this summer, especially because Jackson was able to join them this year! “For all three of my boys – Aurora is what they look forward to, the thing that brings them the most joy in the world, the place where they can just be happy. I am so thrilled that they experienced it all together this time!”