A Steadfast Friendship: David and Jana’s Eight-Year Chemo Pal Journey

David and Jana

For the past eight years, David’s had a friend in his corner to help him through long days in the hospital—his Chemo Pal mentor, Jana. She was matched with David right before his first surgery and has been by his side ever since.

David was only one year old when he was diagnosed with severe combined immunodeficiency, or SCID. This rare genetic disease leaves him with a very weak immune system that’s unable to fight off even mild infections. While David doesn’t receive chemotherapy, he does receive regular infusions to replace antibodies—an uncomfortable process that can take hours.

Jana remembers their first meeting like it was just yesterday. “He couldn’t talk at the time because he had a tracheostomy tube, so he could only do sign language,” she said. “I’ll never forget; when we were done, he sat down his teddy bear and said, ‘nice to meet you,’ in sign language. It was so cute.”

“When I enter the room, he lights up because he knows that I’m a big kid and when I show up, we’re going to have fun,” she said. “But there have also been times when he’s had to face difficult operations and was going through a hard time. I would just be there, smiling for him. He can always count on me in any situation to have fun with him.”

Over the years and through the hardships, their bond has only grown stronger. As David grew up, their shared love of Disney and Legos gave way to fierce games of chess—David taught Jana how to play.

David’s mom Prescilla is always glad to see Jana as well, sharing,

“No matter how rough of a day David has had, no matter how many surgeries he’s gone through, Jana is just always there. That takes the load off him; it also takes the load off me; when he’s calm, I’m calm.” 

David with MyMusicRx

Jammin’ Helps Channel David’s Energy

David’s love for music, especially percussive instruments, brings out his high-energy personality and helps him channel his emotions. Through the years, David has jammed with CCA’s MyMusicRx Specialists during long treatments—and now he can actually sing along too, since his trach tube has been removed. Not only has this allowed David to find his voice to sing along, he’s also excited to be able to eat solid foods—including peanut butter and jelly. He’s proud to say he ate four in-a-row for his first meal!

Jana and David

Joy as a Life Lesson for Kids and Adults Alike

Jana shares, “Seeing his courage is a reminder to me that it’s possible to get through anything with Joy. That’s the mission of the Children’s Cancer Association, and I feel like that’s a lifelong lesson not just for the children receiving treatment, but for adults as we go through our daily lives.”

For children facing cancer and other serious illnesses, Joy is more than a feeling. It’s a necessity.