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For Julie and Austin, the birth of their son, Dax, was to be the start of a fantastic new life as a family. With the new baby, came a new house and new milestones such as Dax’s first giggle and the first time he crawled.
But those milestones were followed by chronic ear infections, ones that doctors could not seem to beat.
Dax was soon admitted to the hospital. Dax was just dehydrated from the fevers, the doctors told Julie and Austin. But even after three bags of fluids, Dax was still listless. He was sent across the street to another hospital where the new life that Julie and Austin envisioned for their family began to crack.
A huge mass was found in Dax’s brain. It was a very severe type of cancer called AML M7. The doctors told Julie and Austin that Dax could be treated locally, but the couple felt their son’s best chance was at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis, Tennessee.
At St. Jude, doctors went to work immediately. Dax received a central line and his first round of chemotherapy. His doctor spent hours talking with Julie and Austin about the protocol, even giving them his personal phone number.
But the cancer proved stronger than the chemotherapy. Dax needed a bone marrow transplant and Julie was to be his donor. The transplant went well and everything seemed fine. But the cancer remained.
Radiation treatment was next. Then another bone marrow transplant, this time with marrow from from Dax’s father. Again the cancer returned. Julie and Austin were told their son would not make it to Christmas.
But if Dax could not make it to Christmas, Julie and Austin vowed, they could bring Christmas to Dax. Two months early, Julie and Austin decorated their house with holiday lights and a Christmas tree. And before they knew it, their neighborhood and the entire town joined their cause, putting up their Christmas decorations early.
National news channels learned of the story and soon people across the country were putting up their Christmas decorations in honor of Dax.
And the little boy who wasn’t supposed to make it to Christmas did, hanging on until December 30, 2009, when he passed away.
Soon after Julie and Austin began a foundation called “Cherish Every Moment—The Dax Locke Foundation” where all proceeds go to the families and children of St. Jude. Julie hopes to raise $1.7 million for St. Jude—the cost of operating the hospital for a single day.
Julie and Austin have since had a daughter who they have named Madeline. Julie can’t wait to tell her daughter about her big brother Dax and how he brought Christmas early and touched the hearts and lives of many.