Jensen Daniel Byrd was born on April 7, 2005 weighing in at 7 lbs and 11 oz. He was a happy, healthy, laid back child who could entertain himself for hours even as an infant. His only visits to the doctor were for routine checkups and shots....until one dreaded day in December of 2007.
Although he had not seemed himself and was complaining of a stomach ache, he was actively playing with friends that one December night. He took a little fall and hit his belly on a bench and instantly began to cry with his "tummy hurting". I took him home and calmed him in a hot bath. His stomach was firm and we assumed it was just constipation. After a day of cleansing with over the counter meds, it was clear that was not the problem.
After dinner, with no relief in symptoms, we took him to the ER. Thanks to the persistence of an amazing doctor, a grapefruit size tumor was quickly found in his abdomen. Within a day or two, the official diagnosis of Stage 4 Neuroblastoma came through. It was a day that we will never forget.
Jensen was just over 2 years old, had just been potty trained, and went from anticipating a visit from santa to being poked like a pin cushion, undergoing multiple surgeries, and initiating a grueling 14 month treatment protocol. Our lives were forever changed.
Jensen fought valiantly, never letting his smile fade. He suffered multiple relapses and in August of 2010, his body became consumed with the cancerous tumors. Next to his burial, taking him home on hospice care was the toughest and most gut wrenching act we as parents have ever faced.
We spent every last minute making memories, re-watching memories on video, and squeezing in every last ounce of love we could share. In his final days, he asked to go outside and play a backyard game of baseball. He had his morphine pump in tow in his Luigi backpack. He separated us into teams and named us all after Super Mario Characters. He played until the pain would not allow him to play any longer. Even then, he coached from the sideline. It was that day, that memory, that led to the Super Slugger tournament and ultimately our 501c3.
Jensen always loved to bring a smile to all that he met. His laugh was infectious and he never let his situation change who he was. He had a giving spirit and always put others first, even at his young age. He taught us so much in 5 short years, but most importantly that every single moment is precious and good or bad, they are all worth living!
Thanks to him, it is now our mission to afford those families in our area with a child with cancer, the opportunity to make memories with their child!