Updated: Sep 24
By his mother, Alicia Ojeda
Our son Jayden was diagnosed with osteosarcoma on April 11,2017 and passed away on his 15th birthday on October 6, 2019. His battle lasted 2 and a half years.
The hardest part of our journey was having to watch an amazing all-star athlete—a soccer superstar—go from an active teen to a child battling cancer. It was extremely difficult watching Jay unable to walk or play soccer, losing weight, undergoing treatment, and eventually becoming paralyzed and in a wheelchair until he took his last breath. During Jayden’s journey, we had to face many relapses. When we thought that Jayden was getting better and about to finish treatment, we were blindsided with the news that the cancer metastasized into other areas of the body.
Through it all, our family was able to find hope because Jayden wholeheartedly believed that God was bigger than cancer. Jay had so much faith and belief that God always had his back. He knew he was going to beat cancer, even if it meant being in heaven—free from cancer and watching over his family.
Ever since our family attended Lighthouse in 2018, Destin became Jayden’s favorite place. He felt alive in Destin. I remember he went swimming in the pool with the rest of the kids even though I told him not to. He was diving and doing flips like a regular child. He went to the beach and went swimming. To honor Jayden, every year on the anniversary of his passing, my daughters and I go to Destin. We stay the entire week next to the Tops’l retreat. It makes us feel closer to Jayden.
For other families with a child on cancer treatment, I want to encourage you to always be your child’s advocate. Do what feels right for your child because, at the end of the day, you have to do what’s best for your child and family. Always ask questions and seek second—even third—opinions. One big thing that helped Jayden was that I was always positive. Jayden never saw me give up, and before he passed away, he said that he didn’t give up because I didn’t give up on him.
The Ojeda Family will be joining us on our annual Sunrise Retreat this month, a bereavement experience offering rest, restoration, hope and joy for families who have lost a child to cancer. In looking ahead to their retreat, Jayden’s mother, Alicia, shares their hopes for this time: “I hope that I get some rest and healing. I hope that I am able to honor Jayden, and that I am able to speak about my son even in the present tense because Jayden is still with me and my family.”
During the month of September, we will be sharing stories written by some of the families who will be attending our Sunrise Retreat this month. We hope you will join us in praying for these families who have endured unimaginable loss, that God will use the week away with their family and Lighthouse volunteers to bring healing and hope.
Our fundraising goal for Childhood Cancer Awareness Month is $30,000, because that’s what it takes to put on a Sunrise Retreat. From meals and gifts to Parent’s Night Out, sibling activities and nights of remembrance, every single dollar we receive in September is going to be invested into providing a restorative experience for families who have lost their child to cancer. When it comes to our growing Sunrise Retreat program, more funding means more families served. Whether you can give $1, $100 or $1,000, please join us in honoring the memories of the children we’ve lost by providing support for the families who will never forget them. Visit this page to learn more or donate.