Sunday, September 12, 2010


Joseph's Story

I know that many of my readers are familiar with my son, Joseph, and his battle with cancer. But I wanted to tell his entire story for both those readers and those who are not familiar with his experience. I will keep this page as a permanent link for all to read.

Joseph is my first born. Even before I met my husband I always felt like there was a little spirit waiting and wanting to come down. So it did not surprise me when we became pregnant just three months after being married. He was born in the wee hours of the morning after laboring for about four hours. He was a big boy at over 8 pounds. And his little face was squished so that his eyes, nose, and mouth were all in the center of his face. After the forceps required to extract him, we were still surprised to see how funny he looked. His little head was covered in whispy dark hair, and his eyes were a dark, dark gray.


Joseph's battles began early with a terrible bout of colic. The boy just couldn't burp or pass gas so his feedings were difficult. He cried and cried and was always drawing up his legs in the most terrible pain. It was a challenging time for his dad and I as we struggled to know how to help him. After about 4-5 months, the colic seemed to get much better and he developed a happy personality.

At the age of 2 1/2 and almost 3 Brett and I left he and his sister with Grandma so that we could take a trip to Hawaii together. When we returned she informed us that he had been suffering from diarhea for a few of the days that we were gone.

We had not been home long, when he developed flu-like symptoms. He was throwing up and throwing up and with such violence. We took him into his pediatrician who gave him a shot of anti-nausea medicine and we took him home to wait. He did not seem to improve. We had several calls from family members who felt impressed to tell us to take him back in. Although, we felt silly for going in two times in one day, we made the trip to the after-hours pediatrician. He did not hestitate to admit Joey right into the hospital because he was extremely dehydrated.

What followed were several days in an isolated hospital room with several tests. It was finally determined that he had developed Clostridium Difficile or C. Diff. Typically most people contract this bacteria from taking too many antibiotics, but Joseph did not fit that description. This bacteria was attacking his colon and causing the diahrea.

We began meeting with a Pedatric Gastroenterologist. She was fabulous and helped us work through the process of trying to help Joey get better. Although the flu-like symptoms were abated, the diarhea continued.

We were charged with collecting stool samples from a child who was not yet potty trained. And after several months of tests, and samples, and doctor visits, we learned that his C. Diff. had turned into Ulcerative Colitis. We were scared but naieve about what the difference was and how treatment would change.

Ulcerative Colitis is an immune disease where the body begins attacking a healthy part of the body. The immune system turns on but does not turn off. Joey's immune system was attacking a particular part of the colon and there was no relief from the symptoms no matter what we tried.

In the midst of this new diagnosis, Joseph was also diagnosed with asthma. We took turns spending time in the hospital each year for either bronchitis or dehydration. We became very adept at packing up and heading to the hospital.

Joseph was a trooper through all of it. He rarely cried or complained even after days of throwing up, IV's, and test after test. He was pleasant and kind to the hospital staff and doctors no matter the situation. I was most often the one staying with him at the hospital while Brett attended school full-time and worked full-time.

During the 10 years of Joseph's disease, we never found relief for his Ulcerative Colitis. Many people have periods of relief and remission. That was not the case for Joey. Instead we made plans for him to attend school despite having 6-8 trips to the bathroom a day. Often he was not able to make it and took an extra pair of clothes with him to school in case he needed to change. He withstood ridicule from his peers, the embarassment of his situation, and the struggle with being different.


Joseph has the amazing ability to be cheerful and to make friends. People loved him. He was polite, kind, loyal, and hard-working. Although Joseph's disease made things like Field Trips, Recess, School-wide Testing, and basic other skills much more difficult he never complained. His teacher's loved and respected him. Joseph was typically at the top of his class and was always surrounded by good friends.

We continued to pursue his care as we moved from Utah to Savannah, Georgia. We tried tried-and-true treatments, innovative IV therapy, dietary changes, and everything we could think of yet there was no change. Joseph continued to have chronic diahrea, frequent bouts of flu-like symptoms and trips to the hospital.

In fact one of his medicines, caused kidney stones and so we ended up in the hospital again for a few days as they learned of and worked on this new development. He passed one of them and spent half the day in the Emergency Room on Christmas Eve in excruciating pain. One of them was the size of a small watermelon seed and quite sharp.

In the fall of 2005, Joseph had his typical colonoscopy. The doctor mentioned there was a hardening in the colon, but we received no information that we should be concerned or worried.

When we returned to Utah, we met back with his original doctor and continued treatment.

During the summer of 2006, Joseph seemed extra run down and tired but we attributed it to our move and starting a new school and hayfever. Joseph began to complain in the early fall of a hard spot in his intestinal area. I could not feel it. But when we went to his appointment with his gastroenterologist, we discussed it. She was concerned. She could feel it. She immediately sent us from our doctor's visit over to Primary Children's Hospital for a CT scan. We spent hours waiting for our turn and then for the diagnosis. There was something blocking his colon.

His doctor once again discussed with us the back-of-the mind thought we had all known: that we might need to remove his colon. It was much earlier than we had planned to do this, but it needed to come out. We were scheduled for the following Monday.

We were not more worried than any other procedure. The doctors and nurses were kind and reassuring. Joseph was a typical trooper and remained calm and jovial. When he came out of the procedure, the nurses commented on how polite he was. I was proud of him and happy to see his sweet little face recovering well.

But we were not prepared for what came next. The lump was the size of an apple. They sent it out for testing. I remember sitting in Joseph's room. He was watching TV and still in intense pain. The scar spread across his abdomen from hip to hip. It hurt to walk, to stand, or even use any of his stomach muscles. The doctor called me out into the hall.

"It's cancer," he said. I felt instantly light-headed. I need to lay down, sit down, pass out, something. "I need to sit down," I said. He reached for the nearest wheelchair. I sat while he continued to explain. "It appears that it has been touching the liver so I scraped off what I could see on the exterior of the liver," he said. He went out to explain some details with me. He was shocked and saddened for us.

I returned to Joey's room. He could tell something was wrong, but I remained calm and tried to appear fine. He did not need to hear the news yet.

I left his room to call Brett. As there is no privacy in a busy hospital, I sat in the foyer of that hospital floor and sobbed as I gave Brett the news. He was shocked and upset as well. We were heartbroken. Our worst and yet impossible fears had come true.

Joey recovered well and was sent home to recover while we waited for the next step in his treatment.

Within a few weeks we returned to the hospital to begin chemotherapy. The oncologist discussed with us a treatment plan. We were clueless and confused and lost, but we listened and tried to research and tried to trust that this doctor would know best how to treat our son. I look back now I have so many questions I would have asked then. But I am not a doctor. I could not even think of all the things to ask or wonder about. No one ever said what stage of cancer it was or what the outlook would be. But we definitely could tell it was serious.

Joseph's chemo required that he have a three day hospital stay each treatment. He was thrilled to learn that the oncology floor had X-box's in every room. He sat in his hospital bed and received his treatment. I stayed at his side as much as possible. On some days his dad would come and stay and work from his hospital room. We were blessed to always have one of us at his side.

After several bouts of treatment, and several scans it was determined that the cancer had spread to his liver. In another agonizing surgery, they removed half of his liver. This scar stretched from his sternum past his belly button, forming the shape of a saber sword, which he actually thought was quite cool but scared his father and I. The doctor called us back to the lab where she actually showed us how much cancer the liver contained. The spots were each the size of a 50 cent piece. I was sickened and devastated.

Joseph struggled to recover from this surgery. It was really never the same after that point. Just a few days after this surgery, his bowels stopped moving. They opened him up AGAIN to discover a twisted bowel. They fixed it and closed him back up.

They transported him from his bed in Primary Children's to the LDS hospital for radiation treatments on top of chemotherapy. I had to pick up my little boy and move him from one wheelchair to another. We took a terribly bumpy ride from one hospital to another in the back of a hospital van. Joseph moaned in pain and we carried a throw up bowl with us everywhere. I was angry that he had to be transported at all. I wavered between anger and frustration and exhaustion. Why couldn't this be easier on him?

There came a time when they asked us if we wished to care for him at home. Joseph wanted to be at home so he actually rest. We learned we could continue radiation treatments at the cancer center at a closer hospital. We were thrilled. Brett and I were trained on giving him daily shots, changing his central line and IV, taking his blood pressure, and administering his medicine. Although I have been queasy over blood most of my life, the mother bear in me kicked in. I tracked his dosages, stayed up with him through the night, and cared for all his basic needs.

He stopped eating almost immediately upon coming home. We had nutrition through his IV. He could not leave his bed to urinate. He could not stand to be touched. We increased his morphine and administered Benadryl ever four hours. He lived for the Benadryl. He hardly talked. He slept all day and all night and woke only for short bouts of labored conversation. He contracted pneumonia and struggled with coughing. I sat the doctors down and asked them the hard questions, "Would he recover?" Their answer was "no." "What is the time table for this then," I asked. "Soon. Within a couple of months most likely," was their reply. I was shocked, disbelieving, and unprepared. We made the decision to tell him the outcome because we didn't feel it was our right to keep that from him. That was the hardest conversation I have ever had in my life and I wouldn't wish that upon my worst enemy. It was devastating and he could hardly fathom the news. I wonder sometimes if we made the right decision telling him, but at his age I felt he had the right to know, to prepare, to be aware. No parent should EVER have to tell their child that they are dying. It was awful, horrible and excruciatingly painful. I still feel deep hurt over that conversation and that diagnosis.

Joseph celebrated his 13th birthday on April 14, 2007 with Make-A-Wish. They went all out with a Clone Trooper costume. Darth Vadar and a storm trooper attended. They spoiled my other two children with so many toys. Although he was grateful, he lay on the couch and begged to be taken back to his room almost before the festivities began. He had no energy to give other people--let alone us. We did see one smile as he received his gifts from his siblings and us the morning of, but he was past the point of caring any more. It was simply too much.

A week and a half later, Joseph asked to sit up. He was having some trouble breathing. I put him in a recliner. Then we tried sitting him up on the couch. I left the room for a moment, and when I returned he was sitting up struggling to breathe. I loaded him up in the van and drove him to the after-hours pediatrician. They took his oxygen stats. They were appallingly low. The doctor called the hospital, which thankfully was just a half block away. The EMT's arrived to transport him that short distance. I called my husband and met him in the hospital ER.

It was chaos. Doctors were rushing around him. They had already taken a chest x-ray. The life flight pilots arrived, and they discussed transporting Joseph up to the children's hospital. They intibated him. Brett and I wept in each other's arms as we watched our little boy be put under. They wheeled him out onto the helicopter. I couldn't help thinking that he would have loved knowing he was going on a helicopter ride. They asked us questions about resuscitation. Despite knowing his diagnosis it was unnatural to suggest that we would ever "let" our child go. We begged them to perform whatever lifesaving measures were necessary.

Brett and I rushed home to grab some supplies and then made the 40 minute drive up to Primary Children's hospital. We rushed into the Intensive Care unit to find Joey actually somewhat coherent. We asked him how he was doing, he gave us a thumb's up sign. We laughed at his always positive attitude. He continued to maintain his positive personality despite it all.

Joseph continued on the breathing tube with in the ICU. We were encouraged to say our good-byes. We notified our extended family and they made the treck up to the hospital. They allowed us to escort two family members in at a time to say their good-byes. They sedated Joseph just a bit so the people would not overwhelm him. I sat in the rocking chair and I watched those he loved whisper their good-byes and hear them thank him for the kind of boy he had been in their lives. It was a beautiful glimpse into the life he had lived and how many people he had touched. To see my heartache mirrored in their own faces was so difficult.

Joseph hung on for a few days more, but in the night of April 27 as I lay on a cot next to his bed, I heard something change in his breathing and movement. I awoke instantly. I voiced my concerns and the nurse agreed that Joey was struggling more. When morning arrived, I called my husband and asked him to come up--something was not right.

April 28 was the most difficult day of my life. We knew what was coming. We cried. We each spent individual time with him trying to say a lifetime of loving messages. I won't share the details of his passing. It is personal, private, and painful. It was horrible. It was devastating and agonizing and filled with more pain than I knew was possible for human beings to suffer through. My beautiful son passed away in the evening and we had to return to a home without him. I will never forget the details of the day even though part of me wants to.

Returning home to tell our other two children and my Mother was agonizing. They were heart broken, and we all spent most of the night weeping. For days we wept. Our children wept. We wept. Jimmy, Joey's younger brother, worried over our reactions. He would flash a huge smile at us every time we cried in an effort to cheer us. It worked. And we tried for their sakes to be strong.

Joseph's funeral was beautiful. So many friends and family from his and our past attended. We felt loved and blessed. It wasn't a sad day for me. It was a tribute and honor to Joey's life, and I was proud of my little son. We selected a casket to match his love of Star Wars: shiny silver and unadorned. We covered his casket with beautiful flowers and gardenias, which were his favorite flower from our life in Savannah. It was a beautiful day.


Although I miss my son every minute of every day, the one thing that has uplifted us and sustained us is our belief in an afterlife. We believe that when we die we are met by loved ones and the Savior who welcome those who have lived right into a state of rest. Joseph certainly deserves rest. I know that when I die, I will see my son again. I look forward to that day. I expect to see my little son tower over me and lift me up in a big hug. I will laugh and rejoice in that. In addition to life after death, we believe in the Resurrection, a time when Christ will return to the earth and all who have lived and died will be lifted from the grave. Spirits will return to bodies, and we will have the opportunity to finish raising our son, watching him grow in health and possibly marry and raise a family of his own. I could not share Joseph's story without sharing my testimony of this. I KNOW this. Joseph would want me to share this with you. If you would like more information on our beliefs as Latter-Day Saints (Mormons), you can read here.
If you have suffered a similar loss, my heart goes out to you. My heart aches for you. I have talked with several parents and children who have lost loved ones. I would be happy to talk with you if you feel the need to share your story. Please feel free to reach out if you need someone to talk to. It would be a beautiful way to honor Joseph's memory.

I love you, my sweet boy Joseph!


51 comments:

  1. Jennifer,
    Thank you for sharing Joey with us. I did not find your blog until a few months ago, but can't thank you enough for sharing your faith with us. May the Lord continue to wrap His arms around your entire family. I am with you...and I too would be looking forward to the day I could see Joey again. I made a contribution last week to neuroblastoma research for one of my thirteen year's olds classmates who is battling this awful disease. I will continue to support research for reducing childhoold cancer. Fondly, Lynn

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  2. Thank you for sharing. Your love for Joey shines through with every word.

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  3. You always touch my heart, and today my heart is heavy for personal reasons but after reading your blog I'm reminded how blessed I am and how worse it could be. Thank you for sharing Joey with us!

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  4. Thank you for sharing. I cant imagine what it would be like to loose a child. You are such a strong person and see it threw scrap pages daily.

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  5. A very touching story, thank you for sharing it.

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  6. Jen, Thank you for sharing your story. I was in tears reading it. My heart goes out to you and sending you a big ((hug)) today. I have volunteered at a Ronald McDonald type of care house in the past and your story has inspired me to look into it again. I will definately choose to make a donation.

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  7. Thank you so much for sharing your story of Joey with us. He was a lucky little boy to have such an amazing mom and I know you're so thankful he was a part of your lives. God Bless You...
    - April

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  8. thank you for sharing your personal story with us. i can't even imagine for a second what you and your family have gone through. but as a mother,it only makes me think of my children and it saddens me. you are such a strong women. your pages of your son Joey are just beautiful. God bless.
    ~danni

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  9. Thank you. I don't think I have words to express how I needed this today. Our children our precious in our Heavenly Father's eyes and are TRUE gifts from him--however long they are to be with us. Thank you for sharing your testimony.

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  10. Thank you. I knew from your previous posts that he had cancer but I was not aware he had UC. I have had Crohn's disease since an early age (although only diagnosed since 1991 at 16). I can't imagine how I'll feel if one of my children ends up with it (it's quite prevalent in my family), nor can I imagine how much it would hurt if I were to lose either of them. But I think about it, in the back of my mind. I know that if it happens I will be strong because I'll have to be. I see that your family has grown and moved forward and it inspires me to cherish each day I do have with my family. Thank you again for sharing his story.

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  11. Anonymous6:25 PM

    Jen thank you for your moving account of your son's illness. I am so truly sorry that his life was taken too soon. I will make sure to hug my two boys tightly tonight. Lisa L.

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  12. i have always loved and admired you and i do more every single day. love you.

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  13. I cannot imagine the pain you must have felt losing your son, it is my absolute worst nightmare, any parents I would think. Thank you for your bravery in sharing his and your story. Tonight I will hug my boys (I have a Joey too) just that little bit tighter.
    God bless
    Sue

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  14. Although I could never truly understand what you've been through I was certainly touched by your story and thankful that you've been able to share it with us. I am happy to know that in the midst of your ongoing anguish you have a hope for the future and the faith of Jesus living in your hearts.
    I pray that you continue to receive comfort from that, and that your openness will touch the hearts and lives of others.
    God bless.
    xx

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  15. a heartbreaking post to read. there's a lump in my throat typing this realizing it's reality for your family. but there is comfort in knowing you will see each other again. may the Lord continue to give you all peace. God bless, mj

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  16. I'm almost scared to comment - like nothing I say would be good enough! Thank you so much for sharing! I cannot imagine the struggle that must have been for you and your family (and still is). Thamk God for God! For his love and reassurance that he is with us and that we will all be together again! God bless you and your entire family. I will definately be shouting up prayers of peace and thanksgiving for you and your faith! God bless always!

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  17. Jennifer - I'm at a loss of words. I cannot even attempt to imagine what it's like to loss a child. It has to be the worst feeling in the world. Sounds like you've done the best you can in this life-changing loss. Thanks for sharing your story with all of us. My heart goes out to you and yours! God bless!

    Jessica

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  18. I lost my mother to cancer but I can't imagine such a loss of a child. I appreciate your testimony and your willingness to share your thoughts and feelings.

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  19. Jen, thank you for sharing Joey's story. I remember when it happened, although you were just a name to me then, and not someone I 'knew.' As time goes by, I'm not sure if it gets any easier, but your story still touches me today, as it did then.

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  20. I have been a regular reader for years now. I remember when people on two peas said that he was gone...and i cried for you...i cried so hard. I went to the gym that evening and had to pull over on the side of the road and just cried for you...

    You had an amazing boy to go through all of this and still smile.My heart is with you.

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  21. Thank you for opening your heart to us. Reading about Joey brings me smiles and tears. As I've seen the different pictures of him, I think of you saying you wanted more with you in them. I've often thought that I see you in his eyes (catchlights, I think they're called). You were always there. Ali Edwards had a wonderful article about journaling with the prompt "I want to remember..." I think it would be great to put together a book of people's thoughts on Joey. Here's mine; I want to remember the sweetness of Joey's face. God bless you all.

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  22. Jen, I'm not quite sure what I want to say. I'm so sorry doesn't quite seem enough, I think if you were here in person then I could show you better. Bear hugs, understanding and a listening ear. There would be times to smile, to relax, to laugh and time to remember - an easy friendship. I think Joseph was one of those people who were sent here to make a huge impact in a short time. An earth Angel. The one that makes us all stop and think about how much we need to, and should enjoy what we have and even relish what we don't have. After all, sometimes the best things in life aren't 'things'. Hugs to you always. It must have been incredibly hard for you to put that down on paper. xx

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  23. Although I am familiar with your story, it still broke my heart all over again. Thinking of you.

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  24. I might never have told you this, but I suffer from OCD. The most debilitating part for me is that I OBSESS over my children dying. I lie awake at nights crying that they might not even wake up the next day even if nothing is wrong. It's agonizing. I have to say that listening to you share your small glimpses into Joey's life and his death has made me slowly realize that even if something was to happen to my boys, i would be alright. It would be the worst thing I'd ever go through but I'd be okay. You are truly an inspiration to me and I can never tell you how much you have touched my life. You have helped me slowly push this OCD aside and look at the time I do have with my children. sorry, I'm rambling. But thank you Jen. I can't say that enough.

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  25. my heart aches for you and your family jen. sending you my love.

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  26. what can I say, Jen? I have no idea. *hugs* I'm thinking of all of you.

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  27. thank you for sharing your beautiful son's story! i cannot even imagine having to go through this. however, your belief and faith as brought you great comfort! especially knowing that you will see him agin in heaven! i too share this belief! just wanted to comment and say that my heart goes out to you and your family!

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  28. I am so, so sorry for your loss.
    I found the link to your blog through Jen Jockish's blog.
    I wasn't expecting to read Joey's story, but am glad I did as hard to read as it was.

    I have never experienced the loss of a child to cancer. But I did lose two of my best friends. A husband and wife as unbelievable as it seems within six years of each other. Ages 33 and 40. They left behind 4 children 13 years of age and under. I thank God everyday that they have a wonderful aunt and uncle who love them and take care of them in place of their parents.

    No one should have to deal with the loss cancer brings, but it's there.
    I admire you so much for sharing the story. I know how hard it is just when my own are sick, but you had to deal with so much more.
    Thank you for sharing.

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  29. Jen, Thank you for sharing your story. Bless you.

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  30. Thank you for sharing sharing your story. You are such a incredibly strong person and I cannot even imagine going thru what you have.

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  31. I have no words to say how much this post touches me. You're so strong. I'm not sure I could have lived through something like this.
    I cried many tears for you and prayed so hard when all of this was happening, and I continue to do so now... my heart goes out to you and your family Jen. Rest in peace, Joey. xox

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  32. thank you for sharing joey's entire story with us. i followed your family's story, in those rough times. and my heart went out to you, when his final day came. i can't even imagine what you have been through. but i do know that your strength and courage have always shown, through everything. you are truely an amazing woman and mother.

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  33. I cannot imagine your pain, Jen, but thank you so much for sharing your story and Joey's. I know him just a little from all you shared and he sounds amazing!

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  34. wonderful post - you have all shown a lot of courage...

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  35. I remember when it happened; I read about your story on 2 peas.

    It still broke my heart all over again. Hugs

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  36. Hi Jenn. I've commented only a couple of times since finding your blog but wanted to comment today to say thank you for sharing Joey with your readers today and telling his story. I have two friends who have lost their sons (one in a motorcycle accident, another in a car accident) and know the nightmare of this loss from them -- and my heart goes out to you and your husband and children. I cannot imagine a greater pain.
    Your Joey will not be forgotten, and your sharing his story here has obviously made an impression on a lot of people, myself included. What a beautiful child, inside and out.
    May God bless you and your family always and may you always keep focused on the day you WILL be with Joey again, rather than the day of his passing this life. What a glorious day that will be!
    {{{{{Hugs}}}}}

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  37. Thank you for sharing your son with us. I need a tissue. I am so glad I donate to such a worthy cause.

    Hugs and kisses.

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  38. Hi Jennifer,
    I just came upon your blog. Thank you for sharing your story about Joseph. It gives me such a great appreciation for you and your family. He sounds like such a wonderful and strong boy. Your strength is a wonderful example!

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  39. I come in your blog because I look scrap ... And I read the story of your son joseph. You certainly see that I'm not english, but I understand all what you write and I cry a lot !!!!!
    I pray for you and your family
    Lot of kiss from Spain
    Helena

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  40. Anonymous9:09 AM

    Dear Jennifer and Family..

    I read your blog often and I cried for you when you lost Joey and cried for you again when I read this post. I can not imagine losing a child.. there can not be a greater pain in the world!

    I so admire your strength and your incredible faith. Thank you for being so open and sharing Joey (and your family) with us all!

    God Bless You all!

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  41. ♥ Thank You. You will all be in my prayers! He is gorgeous! God is GREAT! I also pray that your sharing touches many and brings many to know our Lord and Savior!
    Love & Blessings!

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  42. Thinking of you and your family Jennifer. Joey would be proud.

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  43. Anonymous3:54 PM

    I still remember your blogposts about Joey. I keep thinking of him and wish you much strength!

    Tineke

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  44. Anonymous8:52 AM

    Thank you so much for the opportunity to get to know Joey in some way.
    My heart aches for you and your family. I will be thinking of you tomorrow.

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  45. Dear Jen, I am so sorry. I have been following your videos for some time and knew you had lost your son to cancer. When you spoke about him in a video, I thought about what a heartbreak that must have been. I can't even imagine. This was the first time I had come too your blog and when I read the heading, I knew what it would be about. I had a hard time reading it because I cried all the way through. My mom died from colon cancer and every year now, I walk in the Relay walk for life. I will think about your precious Joey and your family every walk now. I know you will be together again and wish you the happiest reunion when the time comes. I also wish you peace in knowing that you did everything for your son. He could not have had a more loving family!

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  46. I just finished your new tool school class and wanted to check out your blog because you are such a great teacher. I read the blurb about Joey in your recent post and then clicked on this post and I just wanted to share my condolences even though it has been a long time. I was already crying at the thought of you losing your son (I kept thinking of my own little boy and it just hurt). by the time i finished it took several minutes to recompose myself. this was heartbreaking to read. I cannot imagine the struggles you have been through. :(

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  47. Anonymous9:43 PM

    Thank you for sharing your story, I sobbed as I read Joseph's struggles his whole life. No child should ever have to suffer like that. Your family is very strong and I admire your immense strength, honesty, and faith.

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  48. Thank you for sharing your beautiful beautiufl Joseph. I am in tears reading this Jennifer. What Strength, Grace Courage you have but what Grace Diginity and Courage Joseph showed.

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  49. Anonymous5:12 PM

    Jen, Thank you for sharing. I am in the middle of listening to PRT. I stopped to find your site. I cannot imaging your heartache, but I find comfort in seeing you continue to smile and give to others. I'm sure you do this in memory of Joey and knowing that you will be together again. You and your family are a gift to this world. Your faith is a gift as well. Sharing a personal glimpse into your life is precious to me and others. Again, thank you.

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  50. Hi Jen, I'm reading this several years after it was writtenot, but I still want you to know that, all the way in Italy, someone is thinking about you and your family. I'm so sorry for your loss, but so happy you had such a wonderful son! Thank you for sharing this or, as we say, grazie! Elena

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  51. Praying for your family today. You may not feel like it, but you've been a tower of strength to everyone who knows your story and are going through their own struggles. God always uses the bad for good and Joey's life was not in vain. Thankful you will be reunited again for eternity! Love you!!

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