Facing a cancer diagnosis as a child is heartbreaking at any age. But going through it as a teenager brings special challenges.
“In between chemo, losing his hair, and moving on to radiation, he started high school,” says Courtney, of her son Jim, who was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma shortly after graduating eighth grade. “He went through his freshman year of high school being the new kid, not knowing anybody at the school, and having to go through all these treatments and cancer.”
The diagnosis came as a complete shock. “It was tragic and upsetting and scary,” says Courtney. “As a mom, it was pretty devastating trying to understand what this was all going to mean, and how to navigate it,” she explains.
For Jim, the situation was hard to even wrap his head around. “For a 14-year-old teenager, nothing can happen to you,” explains Courtney. “I don’t know that it hit him until one day, he asked me to stop crying because it was scaring him.”
Jim went through a treatment journey with Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital Stanford, including chemotherapy, PET scans, and radiation. It took a toll on the entire family, but at first “we didn’t have a lot of time to think about it,” says Courtney. “We went from treatment to treatment, to medicine, and really just taking care of the protocols.”
It was after all that when the gravity of the situation caught up with all of them. “Afterwards, the anxiety about what could have happened sunk in a little for Jim,” Courtney says. “And his younger brother told me ‘when I realized he wasn’t going to die, I felt much better. And I was like, ‘I never knew that was a thought you even had—oh my god.’ They really just started thinking about their health differently.”
When Jim first learned about Make-A-Wish from his social worker, he resisted the idea because, as a teenage boy, he didn’t want any attention on himself. But Courtney insisted that he at least meet with his wish granters and hear them out. On the day of their arrival, Jim worried about what his wish would be.
“He said, ‘I don’t want a trip, I know you want a trip!” Courtney recalls. She suggested he think hard about something that would bring him joy–after all, it was all about him and what he wanted.
“Like five minutes before Make-A-Wish came through the door, he came out of his room with a beaming smile,” says Courtney. “He said, ‘Did you know you can make a wish to build a computer? And I thought, ‘Here we go!’”
Courtney says from that moment on, Jim’s mood really lifted, despite the fact that he was still going through treatment and had just lost his hair.
When he learned that the PC hardware company Corsair would be adopting his wish and he would be visiting their headquarters to put together his computer, “he got really in to learning about what Corsair was doing and their different parts and games,” says Courtney.
Another bright spot for Jim was being able to bring along his four best friends and brother, who had been close confidants on his battle with cancer. “They really stuck with him on this whole entire journey, and he immediately wanted them involved,” explains Courtney. “He was super stoked that they were there and part of the fun and excitement.”
At Corsair, Jim put together his own gaming computer. The experience was a lot of fun, but also very educational. “It really ties in with what he loves to do,” Courtney says. “He still to this day loves this whole experience and his computer. He takes really good care of it and doesn’t take it
The family was blown away by the kindness and generosity of the Corsair staff. “Being able to see what people do for other people at times like this was huge,” says Courtney.
"In these trying times it's more important than ever that we try to make a difference in the lives of young people facing incredible challenges," says Andy Paul, Founder and CEO of Corsair. "I couldn't be prouder of our work with Make-A-Wish, and especially of the dedicated employees who graciously took the time to meet Jim and help make his wish come true."
Today, Jim’s life is returning to normal. He’s celebrating one year of remission and is no longer sick or going through treatment. Once a freshman battling cancer, he’s now a sophomore at a technical high school, where he’s connecting with people and studying coding.
“He’s taken more of an interest of what he wants to do in his future,” Courtney says. “So that was a big impact too. I think he learned a lot about life skills and using your hands, and also about giving back.”
Courtney’s already recommended Make-A-Wish to a friend’s family member who is going through a similar battle with illness. “It’s an amazing experience what this organization does for kids,” she says. “It’s about giving them hopes and dreams.”
Jim’s wish was adopted by Corsair. Our Adopt-A-Wish program offers a unique opportunity to make an immediate, direct and substantial impact on the life of a child by underwriting the average cost of a wish. Learn more.