Jamal's Letter

Dear Mark

Jamal is a feisty, fun-loving, little 5-year-old. In March he started to feel badly. He stopped eating, he quit playing with his siblings, and his tummy began to swell. His mother, Ernestine, knew it was time to see a doctor. He was stuck constantly by needles and started on multiple medications. The doctors were concerned Jamal had cancer. A biopsy was completed and sent to the lab for testing. Jamal was diagnosed with neuroblastoma, a rare type of childhood cancer. When the doctors told Jamal’s mother the news, she felt like the breath had been knocked out of her. Her worst fear had come true. Ernestine held Jamal in her arms for the rest of the day while she processed this life changing information. After the diagnosis, a chemotherapy treatment plan was developed. Jamal will receive treatment for 18 months including surgery, chemotherapy, a bone marrow transplant, immunotherapy, and radiation.

Jamal’s cancer treatment has caused many challenges and changes for Jamal and his family. Ernestine is a single mother to three children. She works hard to support her family. Jamal’s treatment plan requires inpatient hospitalizations, outpatient clinic visits, and unscheduled inpatient admissions. Jamal has to travel to Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta for a total of 10 weeks for a lifesaving bone marrow transplant. During this time his mother will have to stay with him. For a single mother, missing work for an extended period of time causes a significant financial hardship. Jamal’s grandmother moved in with them to help care for Jamal and his siblings.

Through all the pain and suffering this little guy has endured, Jamal has managed to keep a positive attitude. His smile and laughter are infectious to all around him. He likes to play with all kinds of toys but his favorites are action figures and transformers. When he is not playing with toys, you can find Jamal watching a movie or playing a game on his tablet. Jamal has two siblings, Serenity age 9 and Ahmon age 12. Jamal and his family like to eat at Longhorn steakhouse.

Any help for this family for the holidays would be greatly appreciated. When I asked Jamal’s mother what she wanted most for Christmas, her response was simple, “a cure for childhood cancer.”

Heather Rudolph
Social Worker Case Manager
Dwaine & Cynthia Willett Children’s Hospital of Savannah
at Memorial University Medical Center

Photo: Getty Images

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