Childhood Cancer Heroes

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Jaycen Palimeno

  • Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (ALL)

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Outgoing Jaycen loves meeting new people. He greets everyone with enthusiasm and leaves them with an unforgettable smile. Singing and dancing are his favorite things to do, and he can’t go a day without watching Sesame Street! Jaycen also has down syndrome and underwent open heart surgery for a heart defect before he was 1. Today, he continues to show that resilience in the face of cancer. 

When Jaycen turned 3 years old, he started preschool. He loved it, until his teacher called Joni, Jaycen’s mom, and told her Jaycen was running a fever. Through the first week of November 2019, Jaycen’s fever worsened to the point where he couldn’t walk. Joni took him to the doctor, who diagnosed him with respiratory syncytial virus. 

Two days later, Jaycen developed a rash. This time, the doctor took one look at Jaycen and sent him to Wolfson Children’s Hospital in Florida. Jaycen and his family made the long trip from their home in Georgia, and, five hours after running tests, the doctor told Joni that Jaycen’s blood work showed he had cancer. At that moment, their whole world changed. 

Jaycen began chemotherapy treatment for acute lymphoblastic leukemia. Though it was difficult to watch her son get sicker and sicker with no way to help, Joni says Jaycen is her hero because Jaycen always smiles and never gives up! Today he has been in treatment for a year and six months. He has most of his energy back and his nurses brag that he is one of the easiest patients ever as they have had no problem accessing his port. 

The advice Joni gives to families who may also be facing a childhood cancer diagnosis is to stay strong even though the experience is long and difficult. “Speak your mind to doctors,” she said. “Don’t ever think you’re asking too many questions. It’s okay to ask for help.” 

Joni hopes that one day Jaycen will be able to go back to school and continue to be healthy and happy. She is grateful to Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation for supporting families like hers by sending grocery cards and making the weight on her shoulders a little lighter.  

“My brother fought cancer and kicked its butt!” - Jaycen’s siblings

Information provided by Joni Palimeno, Jaycen’s mom 
Updated June 2021 

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