The year 2020 will not be forgotten, and for the Cerda Family there has been an additional unexpected journey unfolding. With courage and grace they have bravely faced their ten year old son’s brain cancer. As they are walking through the uncertainty Joey and Jihan Cerda would like to share their son Jaden’s story with the hope to educate and bring awareness to a rare form of cancer called: Germinoma brain cancer.
On August 21, 2020 the Cerda family received unexpected, devastating news. Jaden, their middle child- 10 years old, was diagnosed with 2 brain tumors known as a form of germ cell brain cancer. As most may imagine, integrating and processing while taking action toward healing is a daunting task. That said, Joey and Jihan without hesitation band together with the strength of their love and began crossing each bridge.
Learning as they go has been the motto for Joey and Jihan. They both have kept a positive and empowering mindset for Jaden, and their other two children so everyone may heal and process as the journey unfolds. Jihan, Jaden’s mother, shared this:
“We’re learning to ALWAYS be ready for the unexpected. Jaden’s blood test last Thursday determined a red blood transfusion was necessary. So, we headed to the clinic with the intentions on getting things done and heading home to enjoy the weekend…..well, an unexpected fever crept up prior to the transfusion, causing an immediate admission to the hospital. During chemotherapy, a fever can be a sign of an infection. In most cases when this happens, patients are admitted until they are fever free for approximately 48 hours and given antibiotics to fight off anything that may be creeping up. Thankfully, his body fought off any possible infection pretty quick with the help of the antibiotics, and his blood culture tests all came back negative. He was home 36 hours later. Fast forward to Monday, his blood test determined he needed another platelet transfusion…..except this time, no fever, followed by Cheesecake Factory for lunch (curbside pickup of course), and home in time for one of his other favorite things…..Monday Night football!! Moral of the story….always have a bag packed for an unexpected overnight hospital stay.”
Additionally, Joey, Jaden’s father, reflected on his son’s surgery while sitting in the hospital waiting room, and shared the abundance of gratitude he felt for the love from everyone reaching out to support Jaden and the family. Joey expressed:
“As I sit in the waiting room during Jaden’s biopsy there are so many thoughts and emotions being felt right now, and throughout the last couple of weeks. So many: thoughts, memories, questions, concerns, smiles, tears, and tons of hugs. One of the many things that made this very difficult for us was the thought and realization that he might feel alone during this process. I mean No one can actually fight this with you Right? Slowly family members and friends started to find out what was going on. We started receiving texts, messages, cards, meals, toys, and even a crazy amount of financial support. We quickly realized that there wasn’t going to be one second where he would feel alone. I can’t think of a time in my life we’re I’ve ever felt more love or been directly affected by this type of compassion and support! There were many times in my life I had watched someone that I really loved go through a hardship; I would have a very hard time thinking of what I would say to them, or I would draft up a message to send and think it wasn’t enough. I wanted to actually change things for them, take the pain away and make things better! Watching someone suffer and feeling powerless is very uncomfortable. So I thank everyone that sent messages, made comments, shared Jaden’s story, and reached out from the deepest part of my heart. It’s a very difficult time for everyone who cares for him and our family. Every single prayer and positive thought is felt. Every single card and message brought a beautiful smile to Jaden’s face, which is priceless to a parent! I’ve receive so many text messages, even as we speak telling me to keep my head up and be strong, and that everything is going to be OK! These messages make a huge difference to me. Anyone who has been to one of my boy’s football games with me, and heard me yell out to them while Jihan rolls her eyes, and takes a few steps away knows that I’m not yelling. I always tell my wife, all I am doing is making sure the right thoughts in their heads are being heard loud enough! Every message of encouragement from everyone to us as parents is doing just that – helping our minds stay on the bright side of things. So thank you again! What’s very strange about all of this, is that you all have made it possible during one of the darkest times in our lives to feel so much love, kindness , generosity, togetherness, and most and best of all that we have an overflowing amount of loving family. Anyone who so much as thought a loving thought towards my son and our family is now part of our family … I can’t wait until our next reunion! I love you all more than I could ever put into words, thank you so much for having my little guys back! No one fights Alone! You mean the world to me.”
So what exactly is Germinoma cancer? Germinoma is one type of a germ cell brain tumor. St. Jude Children Research Hospital indicated that, “Germ cell brain tumors, usually cancerous, arise in the pineal gland or suprasellar region of the brain. However, a germ cell brain tumor can spread to other parts of the brain and spin including into the cerebral spinal fluid. ” As the Cerda family walks the unknown path of their journey they have decided to bring awareness to this type of cancer.
The Cerda families wish in sharing their story is to help other families, and empower education so more research may be done to help all children. It has been discovered that the commonality of germ cell brain tumors appear to be rare. As indicated by St. Jude Children Research Hospital, “Germ cell brain tumors are very rare, accounting for less than 5 percent of all brain tumors in children. They are more common in boys than girls, and about half of germ cell brain tumors in children and young adults ages 11-30. Furthermore, children treated for Germinomas have a 90% survival rate.”
Embarking on any cancer journey is intimidating, especially when it is a child who has to face and endure the process. But as stated by the Team Jaden support group “No One Fights Alone,” and that has proven to be true. Jaden’s support group has 1, 133 members so far, and his go fund me account, to help offset medical expenses, has raised $233,042.00. However, everyone’s aspiration is to keep the love and support flowing.
If anyone would like to be a part of Jaden’s team and read more support comments go to his Team Jaden Facebook page. The following are a few posts: Denise Sherman Zaccaro, “Sending our love from your N.Y. cousins. Stay strong Jaden- you got this;” Linda Isbell Warner, “Hey Jaden, My friend and I work with your aunt. (she’s great!) We heard what was up in your life. So we wanted you to know we’ve got your back here and are sending you lots of love and support;” and Mikey The ‘Rock, “I’m 45 today and my only wish is for Jaden to get well!! Since you look so handsome and tough without hair I decided to be tough like you, and it’s not coming back until you’re 100 percent cancer free. Everyone here in the La Rocca family is staying Cerdafied strong for you, and we don’t leave the house without sending you love. You’re our hero Jaden!”
Jaden has been in good spirits the entire time, and each message written to him helps empower his energy to continue the fight. So if you want to send love, support, and help by adding his support page, donating to the go fund me page, purchasing one of the “No One Fights Alone” items, and/or all of the above feel free to follow the three links below.
Jaden and the entire family would like to personally thank each and everyone who has sent their thoughts, love, and support during a very difficult time that they never imagined they would face. The Cerda family also wishes everyone wellness and a safe journey during the interesting times we are all enduring.
Team Jaden Facebook:
Jaden “No One Fights Alone” merchandise:
Jaden Go-Fund-Me Page:
St. Jude Children Research Hospital. Germ Cell Tumors (Brain). 2020. Retrieved: www.stjude.org/disease/germ-cell-tumors-brain.html