When Bertha first found out her son, Emet, had leukemia, she was speechless. She didn’t know how to break the news to Emet, who was only 10 years old at the time, without scaring him. But then, she found the perfect words:
“He used to really like Power Rangers, so I said, ‘You’re going to be a Power Ranger and you’re going to fight these bad guys you have living in your body right now. You’re not going to give up. You’re going to fight for it and we’re going to do this together. You’re not going to be alone.’”
Bertha was right. Despite being in treatment for three long years, Emet never once felt lonely. And if you ask him, that’s what made the difference. When his hospital stays felt like they’d never end, visits with his mom, his grandma, his teachers, and fun moments with his JoyRx Mentor, Michael, and CCA’s JoyRx Music specialists lifted Emet’s spirits and gave him the strength he needed for the long journey ahead.
A New Friend Brings Emet Out of His Shell
Between chemotherapy and a long recovery from listeriosis—a bacterial infection that put him on dialysis and left him unconscious for almost two weeks—Emet began to associate the hospital with bad memories. But when he met his JoyRx Mentor, Michael, Emet’s outlook started to shift. The pair became fast friends, playing Uno, talking about Pokemon
, and just hanging out. Michael even took Emet to his very first basketball game, where they cheered on the Portland Trail Blazers.
“He was a little more excited to go to the hospital because he got to see Michael. Before, he would just cry because he always got poked, and he didn’t want that to happen. It was really nice to have a little extra support from someone else.“ —Bertha
Since COVID began, Michael and Emet have stayed in touch by texting and playing online video games like Fortnite together. Even though they can’t see each other in person right now, Bertha is grateful for Michael’s friendship, saying his influence has had a lasting, positive impact on Emet’s life.
“Michael helped a lot. Before, Emet was quiet when he was in treatment. He didn’t want to participate. Now, he’s a little more outgoing. He says “Hi” to people and socializes more. I think Michael had a big impact on his life. It was something good to come out of all of this.” —Bertha
Music brings Joy and Happy Memories to the Hospital
More happy memories were made when CCA’s JoyRx Music specialists came to visit. Emet and his mom looked forward to music sessions, where CCA’s trained staff musicians would fill the room with Emet’s favorite songs, like “Count on Me” by Bruno Mars, to help him take his mind off treatment. Said Emet, “it made it a little bit easier to be in the hospital.”
Bertha said she enjoyed the music and company—but knowing that her son was happy and enjoying himself was the biggest gift of all.
“Thinking about him going through chemo is hard. But knowing he was enjoying something, and somebody was there with him making him happy was nice. It made me happy too, and it took a bit off my stress.” —Bertha
Taking it Day by Day
After three long years, Emet celebrated his last day of treatment in November 2020. Now that he’s out of the hospital, he has more time to do the things he loves—playing with RC (radio controlled) cars, playing Fornite, and being outside. He’s excited about the future, and he’s looking forward to starting his first year of high school in the fall.
Bertha is happy that her son is back home and feeling more like himself. And while she doesn’t like thinking about everything her son has endured over the past few years, there are some things about the hospital that they miss.
“It’s good to be home, but sometimes we kind of miss being in the hospital because of all the programs they had—especially JoyRx Music. Before CCA, Emet was sad and overwhelmed. But then, when we started the JoyRx Mentorship program and the music program, he was a little more excited to go to chemotherapy and his appointments. We just love CCA’s programs. They made a big impact on our lives.” —Bertha
When treatment felt never-ending, playing Uno games with Michael and listening to JoyRx Music specialists sing his favorite songs filled Emet’s hospital room with Joy, lifting his spirits and helping him to feel more like himself.
You can help more kids like Emet experience the emotional benefits of JoyRx by making a donation today.