“Jayden, also known as Beanz, began playing soccer at the young age of 4. At 6, Jayden was the youngest player to be drafted into the competitive division at his soccer club. Jayden earned his respect on the field and became known as a beast in soccer. At the age of 12, Jayden was one of two young men selected to play on his middle school soccer team. He was told he would be benched the entire season because he was a sixth-grader and the younger players had to earn their stripes. Well, little did his coaches know, Jayden was fierce and danced circles around many of the players which earned him a position on the starting line up. As his mother, I was proud. Proud to see my son living his dream. He was so passionate about his love for soccer. He had a plan for his life. He wanted to continue playing soccer beyond college and even wanted to coach young players.
His love for soccer is ultimately the one thing that saved his life. On March 30, 2017, Jayden was in his PE class when he tripped over a soccer ball. Jayden called me at approximately 9:30 am stating that his leg was in pain. I sent him back to class because he stated that he wasn’t bleeding and nothing seemed out of place. Once again, Jayden called me at 1:15 pm stating he had more leg pain. Again, I asked him the same questions and sent him back to class. At 3:45 pm, I ended up having to pick Jayden and his sister, Sacaria up. On our way home, I decided to stop by the local urgent care to prove to Jayden that there was nothing wrong with his leg. After X-rays on his leg and several hours of waiting at the urgent care clinic, the doctor came in with the horrific news that no parent should ever have to hear. “Your child has cancer”.
I was in such denial that I called his pediatrician and scheduled an appt on March 31, 2017. An MRI was scheduled for the following week at USF, however, over the weekend his pediatrician called me and stated that Jay needed an MRI with contrast. It was at that moment that I felt something was wrong. Jayden went in for his two and a half hour MRI with contrast. Shortly thereafter, he went to see a sports injury dr that his pediatrician referred him to. His pediatrician and I still firmly believed that Jayden had a sports-related injury that healed wrong. The sports injury doctor was the very first person to review his scans and with sadness in his eyes, he told me that my son needed to see a Moffitt Doctor. My world came crashing down and I remember feeling as though I couldn’t breathe. Why would my son need to go to Moffitt? I asked over and over again until the doctor told me that my son had a type of sarcoma. He said he was not sure which type of sarcoma it was but this was a very serious and urgent matter.
On April 10, 2017, we met Dr. Odion Binitie a sarcoma surgeon. He explained that he would perform a biopsy and give us clarification and answers to all of our concerns. On April 11, 2017, Jayden was officially diagnosed with osteosarcoma cancer in his left tibia. I remember being told “ I’m so sorry mom, your son has cancer” I broke down and cried and felt helpless. “How could this happen,” I asked. Jay gets two physicals a year. “ Why my son; no one has cancer on either side of our families”. All I could think about was how do I tell my son that he would start the fight for his life. I remember feeling an overwhelming pain knowing that I had to look, my baby boy, my momma’s boy in the face post-op, and tell him he couldn’t play soccer for the months to come. Jayden was immediately sent to the oncology department at Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital. We met with Dr. Shaw, Director Deputy of the Hematology and Oncology Program. In the blink of an eye, our cancer journey began. That date, April 21, 2017, will forever be embedded in my brain. Jayden went in for surgery to have his port placed in and began his first 10 cycles of chemotherapy. On June 30, 2017, Beanz underwent a 7-hour procedure called the Limb Salvage Surgery. His surgeon and I wanted to save my son’s leg so that one day, I could see my son back on that soccer field. On August 1, 2017, and August 16, 2017, Jayden underwent plastic surgery, muscle flap surgery, and other surgeries due to complications from the chemo. After all of his major surgeries, Jayden went on to complete 18 more rounds of chemo( all inpatient). In total, my son underwent 10 long harsh months, 6 total cycles, and a total of 28 rounds of some of the harshest intense high dose chemos. He completed his chemo journey on January 21, 2018, and rang the bell. This was the happiest moment of our journey. Jayden had his port removed on March 21, 2018, and we believed cancer was behind us.
May 9, 2018, Jayden went in for his three-month scans. Normal routines procedure. He had an MRI with contrast, X-ray, and ct scans. On May 10, 2018, Dr. Shaw informed us that Jayden had relapsed and cancer had spread to his lungs. Three nodules were found in his left lung. Immediately, Jayden went back in for surgery to put a double-lumen power port in his left chest. His treatment now included two of the most potent chemos that could be given to children. These were also given at high doses. I remember signing a consent form stating that these chemos could cure the nodules in his lung, however, could cause neurotoxicity. As a parent, that was one of the hardest decisions I ever had to make. Knowing my son could be cured of osteosarcoma yet knowing he could become brain-damaged. Jayden looked me in my eyes and said “mom it’s ok, please just sign the papers. I can beat cancer”. Jayden completed two cycles of chemo, numerous blood, and platelet transfusions and then underwent a thoracotomy to remove the nodules. This painful surgery included spreading his ribs and collapsing his left lung to remove the nodules. The surgeon also cut portions of his lung. Jayden was left to recover with a tube coming out of his chest. Every breath he took, every cough, every word he said was so unbearable but he kept on fighting with a warrior spirit. The nodules were sent off to pathology and were then sent to another pathology lab for intense screening. The reports came back that all three nodules were cancer. The necrosis of each tumor ranged from 15-30 percent which meant that the aggressive chemo barely touched his cancer.
Jayden completed two more cycles of chemo and completed his chemo treatments on November 6, 2018. Jayden again rang the bell which signifies the end of treatment. At his bell-ringing, Jayden had so many people there that stood inspired by his journey. So many people told me that Jayden was a true hero, an inspiration to many fighting cancer, to those living life and going through obstacles. Jayden never gave up.
On November 15, Beanz told his nurse practitioner that he had fallen playing nine square at a pediatric cancer retreat. Nothing stopped Jayden. Even though he was learning how to walk, he decided to dive right back into sports. He slipped and fell on his right leg. His scan results once again came back with the news that we were not expecting. Jayden’s cancer had metastasized to other bone areas. He had developed tumors on his right side including his pelvic bone, his humerus bone, his tibia, and femur. The doctors began Jayden on oral Chemo pills.
On January 23, 2019, Jayden had follow-up scans. Again, we were blindsided with the results. His cancer metastasized to his spine and his left pelvic bone. Jayden’s body has been rejecting all forms of chemo. Osteosarcoma cancer is one of the most painful cancers. The struggle to walk, move, sit, stand has been so unbearable for my son. However, he graciously smiles and keeps fighting. No matter how many times he gets knocked down, he picks himself back up and keeps moving forward.
Unfortunately, on February 5, 2019, we were told cancer once again metastasized to my son’s brain. They found two tumors pressing down on his nerves causing my son’s brain to swell. The doctors told me “we are running out of options”.
On Jaydens 15th birthday- October 6, 2019, Jayden won his battle with cancer and went home to Heaven. Jayden knew he would pass on his birthday and was not scared. He comforted me and prepped me for the days leading to his death. Jayden was the most caring and strongest teen I have ever met.”