• Melissa Byrd

Super Slugger - A New Perspective

Written By: Shawnda Koser

My name is Shawnda Koser and I am blessed to be one of the board members of Jensen’s Heart of Gold 💛. I was first introduced into the world of childhood cancer in 2007 when Jensen was diagnosed with stage 4 neuroblastoma. This was not my child or even my family, but the impact that little boy had on my life from a thousand miles away was enormous. 

There were moments I felt completely helpless being so far away and other times that distance allowed me to bless the family with a place to stay outside of New York City and give them some normalcy amongst the cancer treatments. I loved Jensen and his family and I hated to see cancer steal their joy. 

Hatred, anger, sadness, these are some of the feelings I have when I think about this awful disease. This little boy should have been carefree and enjoying his childhood, but instead he was battling for his life. The phone call I received in August 2010 from Melissa, telling me that Jensen was going on hospice, was probably worse than the initial call about his diagnosis. 

I am blessed to have a wonderful husband and family that allowed me to hop on a plane and spend a week with the Byrds. I felt like this was my turn to help and soak up some time with Jensen, and I did just that! I helped decorate their new house, clean out their old house, run errands, and take care of Jayden so Lynn and Melissa could spend every moment with their son. 

The outpouring of love this family received was truly amazing. This brings me to our backyard game of baseball. Jensen just wanted to be like most other 5 yr old boys running around playing, and he did not let cancer stop that. He put his morphine pump in a backpack and we went outside to play baseball. We set up cardboard bases and Jensen gave us all Super Mario character names. 

The memories of that 1/2 hour will forever stick with me. That is something cancer cannot steal! I write this to tell you there are so many different ways you can help these children and give them a glimpse of normalcy. That is the main goal of Jensen’s Heart of Gold, making memories and helping the families to allow this to happen! 

I know the world is chaotic, but I also know childhood cancer and the battles these kids are going through do not stop. Donate your time and/or money. Doing nothing is not the answer, so go help these families make memories!  

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