In this gift bag is approximately $2300-
I was beyond thrilled to see her sweet face in my 2nd period Anatomy class the first day of school this year- although I could tell she was feeling... off. I couldn't place it. Was she sad? Was is it her health? A few days into school, Jackie stayed after class to let me know that she'd be missing a little school. It was all of the above. It was cancer. It was Stage 3 Hodgkin's Lymphoma.
She immediately began aggressive chemotherapy several times a week. She lost her beautiful hair. She underwent chemo treatments for months- feeling ill, feeling down, yet continuing her Senior year on the "homebound program." Never ceasing to amaze me with her high As on Anatomy assignments, tests, and projects that she did 100% on her own.
I mean, this is bad enough, right!??!?! It gets even more heartbreaking. I ran into Jackie and her mother after school one day while they were at Katy HS ironing out some homebound details. After questioning them a little with what was meant to be small-talk, I realized "struggling" was probably an understatement. Gloria Reyes cleans homes for a living- yet Jackie's treatments are all downtown and take a huge chunk of time. Add to that fighting Houston traffic to and from the med-center... ick.
I found out that Jackie's father is not in the picture. Not because they are divorced, or he ran off- because he passed away from Pancreatic cancer when Jackie was a toddler. It is just Jackie and her mother, trying to survive this horrific tragedy, in the wake of their already-tragic-loss a decade ago.
So another teacher (Jen Blair) and I decided to take action. We sent an email to the staff explaining her situation- hoping to raise a few hundred dollars to help the Reyes girls out during the holiday season- pay a bill, purchase a few Christmas gifts, etc. The response was astounding. Hundreds of dollars began pouring in. People were writing checks for $100. Putting wads of anonymous $20s and $50s in my box. Teachers who I KNOW are also suffering from cancer and the treatment's effects donated. People that I KNOW are struggling financially donated. I reached out to Casey's company, Aerotek- and received an outrageous donation from them, too.
I have to recognize two donors. LizAnn Wheeler (who works with Casey) gave $250, and Hunter & Ashleigh Gaulke donated $350. I. Was. Floored. The blessings that these people were giving was beyond my wildest dreams.
Jen and I met at Jackie's house at the beginning of the holiday break to give this generous gift to Jackie- only to find out that she and her mother were in a car accident the day before on their drive home from radiation. Totaling their only car. This gift couldn't have come at a better time for them.
Jackie occasionally blogs at My Cancer Journey. Her reasoning behind sparse posts is that she gets "lazy" and "procrastinates" ... that shows you right there how little this girl complains. She just amazes me, and I cannot wait until she returns this semester with a clean bill of health so I can love on her every day!