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Tears, hope drive Astros' St. Baldrick's record high

Tears, hope drive Astros’
St. Baldrick’s record high

From Bob McParland
High School Dist. 218

  Shirley Jones hopes her son, who right now fights for his life, will become the new face of cancer for students and staff from Shepard High School.
  After the St. Baldrick’s Foundation assembly — tears, hugs, and applause filled the gym — in which the Shepard community set a new record with more than $20,000 in donations, Jones felt assured.
  Jones, who works at Shepard in security and as a Crestwood police officer, has watched her son fight for his life. The assembly at Shepard proved incredibly emotional for Jones and her son. Feeling the love and support of the Shepard community heartened them.
  “The support from the staff and student body is amazing. I know I reached so many kids [through a speech she wrote for the assembly.] I want them to know this is one of the faces of cancer. They donated so much and I am so proud of them,” Jones said.
  After Dean of Students Jacki Frederking read the speech that Jones wrote about her son, all 2,000 students and staff members stood and applauded. Then they went to work shaving heads, the traditional method that St. Baldrick’s has employed to raise more than $100 million for pediatric cancer research in a little over a decade.
  “He was surprised,” said Jones, whose son did not graduate from Shepard. “He was greeted with so much love and support. At the end of the event he and I had such an emotional moment. We were honored to have shared it with our Shepard family. Yesterday was for St. Baldrick’s, but it was so much more to us.”
  Jimmy, who just turned 19, learned he has stage four Hodgkins lymphoma in December. After several weeks of tests and multiple visits to emergency rooms, the family received the devastating news.
  “When we walked out into the hall [a doctor had asked to talk with her] I knew, I just knew. They said Jimmy’s chest is full of growth, cancerous tumors. They immediately admitted him. He had several surgeries and biopsies,” Jones said.
  First thinking they caught the disease at stage two, doctors told Jones that the cancer in Jimmy was stage four. Today, he not only fights the cancer, but seizures and heart failure as well.
  “Having my son fight for his life is by far the most emotional thing I have experienced. I am scared every time I leave him. He is now in the beginning stages of heart failure and he has seizures,” Jones said.
  The weeks leading to the St. Baldrick’s event, and the assembly itself, made Jones and her son feel like they would not need to fight alone.
  “Now every time we go to the hospital, there’s something else. So, St. Baldrick’s was so much more to us. Today we fight, tomorrow we will be fighting too,” Jones said.