St. Jude celebrates the courage and tenacity of moms.
Unless she has to work, Danielle Young usually spends Mother’s Day with her sons and her mother, “doing whatever my mom wants to do.’’
But Danielle is likely to spend this Mother’s Day at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, where her 7-year-old son, Devin, is receiving treatment for a fast-growing tumor near the center of his brain.
As a single mother of two, Danielle is used to waking up ready to handle whatever comes her way.
“You just get up every morning and do what has to be done because there is not an extra person to lean on,” she says.
Danielle’s daily duties have changed drastically since last August, when doctors discovered Devin’s illness was not a sinus problem, but a brain tumor.
“They were like, ‘Get in this ambulance, you’ve got to go now,’” she remembers. “‘Say your good-byes to any family.’”
Danielle and Devin sped to Memphis, leaving her 9-year-old son, Donovan, at home with his grandmother.
After the biopsy confirmed cancer, surgeons removed as much of the tumor as possible. Then Devin began six weeks of radiation therapy at St. Jude. His chemotherapy treatment should be complete sometime this spring.
Danielle and Devin have been home just once since August, and the family’s separation is difficult for her and her boys, who are best friends.
“For seven years, these two have had each other. They have never been separated and never even spent the night away from each other,” she says.
Danielle talks to Donovan by telephone daily, and her care for Devin, who was also diagnosed with mild autism, is evident in her gentle tone. She is clearly Devin’s rock.
With her easy laugh and down-to-earth manner, Danielle carries calm into all situations. That characteristic has benefited her during Devin’s illness and her eight years in the U.S. Navy.
“I learned early [in the Navy] that crises happen, and there is no need to get upset. If you get upset and flustered during a crisis, you will probably make a mistake. That has helped me to keep calm during this,” she says.
Throughout Devin’s illness, Danielle has been thankful for the support of her mother, who is willing to move to Memphis if treatment continues past spring. And Danielle is appreciative of St. Jude.
“I’m extremely grateful to be able to get Devin such good treatment. The people here have been great,” she says.
“I fully have faith that Devin will make it through this and be fine. But at this point, it’s one day at a time,” Danielle adds. “If things can change, they will.”
St. Jude recognizes the strength of mothers everywhere. If you know an amazing mom like Danielle, you can honor her and support St. Jude by purchasing a Mother’s Day Tribute card at stjude.org/mother.
Honor an amazing mom: visit stjude.org/mother
Abridged from Promise, Spring 2014