'Smile and play while fighting for dear life'
A mom remembers arriving at Cook Children's on Halloween
Five years ago, Wendy and Jody Gerngross arrived at Cook Children's during Halloween, not exactly in the holiday spirit. After all, they had just learned their then 18-month-old daughter, Jinger Jo, was diagnosed with Acute Myeloid Leukemia in October and their third child was due around Christmas.
Wendy says the story of her daughter's battle "could be a novel." She wants people to know her daughter, who is a child with Down Syndrome, and their incredible story.
"Children with Down Syndrome have an incredibly higher chance at defeating leukemia," she said. "And by higher I mean get on your knees and say,'Thank you Lord for this extra chromosome!'"
After more than 700 hours of chemotherapy and eight months of inpatient care, Jinger Jo won her batle against cancer. "She did more than win the fight with cancer though," Wendy says. "She blessed me and many others with a new improved outlook on life."
Today, Jinger Joy is doing well and brings joy to her family every day. Wendy shares with us her story of arriving at Cook Children's:
I remember 5 years ago walking off the elevator onto the third floor at Cook Children's and dodging Nerf bullets being shot by nurses into the rooms of children fighting cancer. In my mind I found this highly inappropriate. My child was beginning a battle for her life and these were the professionals that were going to carry us through triumphantly? Not only were they Nerf gun battling, but I wasn't too sure who the nurses were, since they all were dressed in Halloween costumes.
Fast forward eight months and I was completely thankful for the nurses and staff that not only brought life back to my baby girl that cancer was trying to rip away, but they helped us remember how to smile and play while fighting for dear life.
Those crazy nurses, doctors, child life and even security guards that I thought were not taking their jobs seriously at first, proved to be doing their jobs phenomenally as well as putting smiles on the faces of children and parents who felt scared, sick and alone. God bless Cook Children's Oncology (especially the crazy Nerf gun shooting ones).
Putting the "h" and the "o" in hope
If we had one wish, it would be to make it so that no child would ever have to suffer from any kind of illness. Here at the Cook Children's Hematology and Oncology Center, we are working every day on medical treatments and research to help make the blood disorders and cancers that hurt children and teens, disappear.