JoyRx Heals: Macky’s Story

Macky is a bubbly 12-year-old who loves animals (especially monkeys!) and studying math. In late 2017, his mom, Sarah, noticed that her normally stocky son was losing weight—a lot of weight.

“I was working a lot at the time, so I thought that maybe he was just sad that I wasn’t at home as often,” explained Sarah. Macky assured her he was fine—but on Halloween, he started breathing heavily and got progressively worse as the night went on.

“It was almost like he was having a heart attack,” Sarah said. “We took him straight the ER, and that’s when we learned he had leukemia.”

At first, Sarah just told him that his blood was sick and that he needed to be in the hospital. “I didn’t want to scare him more than he already was,” she said. “It was probably a full month before I told him he had cancer.”

A Friend Steps In

Macky isn’t the typical leukemia patient: chemotherapy wasn’t enough to get him into remission, so he’ll need to get monthly infusions for the rest of his life. But the prospect of enduring pokes and prods forever was really hard, both for Macky and his mom. “He would cry the night before we had to go to the hospital,” Sarah said. So in November 2019, two years after his treatment journey began, Macky was introduced to a Van—his new JoyRx Mentor.

“At first it was a little like an awkward blind date,” laughed Sarah. But it wasn’t long before the two were having fun playing with the bag of toys and games that Van had brought along.

Having Van there was huge help to Sarah as well. “I really don’t like needles,” she admitted. “So Van would be the one going, ‘Yay Macky! Good job!’ while he was getting poked and I had to look away.”

Suddenly, Macky’s visits to the hospital weren’t something to dread—they were something to look forward to. “Macky, would say, ‘Mom is it time yet?’ and I’d tell him, ‘Not until next week.’ So he’d reply, ‘Okay! Did you tell Van yet?’” Sarah smiled.

The two regularly engage in long video chats while Macky is at the hospital, and Van even coordinated more time so they can play Minecraft from their respective homes. “It’s so cool to watch them build this virtual world together while they’re two different states, and it’s made a huge difference in Macky’s mood,” Sarah said.

During his hospital visits, Macky also experienced the joy of music through CCA’s MyMusicRx program. He loved listening to the Music Specialists perform in the hallways, and one special day he even got to have a ukulele lesson. Recently, Macky started taking drum lessons with JoyRx Music specialist, Jean. The two meet regularly on Zoom, and Macky is having lots of fun learning a new instrument during this time of social distance.

When asked if other kids and families should take advantage of CCA’s programs, the answer from Macky was a resounding “YES!”.

“You should definitely do it,” he said. “It’s really fun and you learn a lot.”

Sarah has nothing but good things to say as well. “I can’t change Macky’s diagnosis, but with CCA’s help, I can change his experience for the better.”

You can help more kids like Macky experience the emotional benefits of JoyRx by making a donation today.

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