When Cindy Gaskins son was diagnosed with cancer, the one thing she didnt have to worry about was a support system. But Gaskins soon realized the support she received as Jay fought cancer was not the norm.
During Jays battle, Gaskins founded Jays Hope Foundation, an organization that provides support to families of children with cancer. Jay died in 2006 at the age of 5.
Leigh McElroy, communications director of Jays Hope, said whatever a family needs in the way of support Jays Hope tries to provide it.
It might be money to stay in a hotel or for medicine that insurance wont cover, McElroy said. But social support is a big need, so we provide ways for families to meet and network and to love each other.
Every month, Jays Hope sponsors events for their families, ranging from mom- or dad-focused offerings to events for the whole family.
One of those events was held Friday in Houston County as Jays Hope moms were treated to a night out at Salon Fusion, a full-service salon offering services for the inside and out.
Along with the two-hour pampering, the staff at Salon Fusion also offered the Jays Hope mothers a spread of food and raffle items.
Contacted by Jays Hope last year about providing the evening, owner Ginger Huff and her staff requested to be added to the calendar again this year.
Watching them here, I could only imagine if I was going through something like this with my own kids. We just wanted to give them a place to be together and share in a really relaxing atmosphere, said Huff. I want my salon to be community-based and to be involved in our community.
Huff said some of the moms took the opportunity to talk with each other about their experiences while others were more involved in receiving the services offered by Salon Fusion.
We wanted them to do whatever was more comforting to them, said Huff.
One of the moms in attendance was Danielle Goins, whose son Salaam, a 15-year-old student at Northside High School, was diagnosed at 13 with a very rare cancer that affects the soft tissue.
In the past two years since his diagnosis, Salaam has undergone chemotherapy, radiation and surgery. He currently is going through physical therapy in an effort to learn how to walk again.
Cindy and Jays Hope are my doctors, Goins said. They are who keep me strong and who I lean on.
Goins said when her son was first diagnosed she went through a multitude of emotions from blaming herself to feeling like a failure as a mother.
I really just wanted to crawl into a corner, Goins said. But then Cindy comes around and says to you to get off that floor and be your childs advocate. Your child is about to fight the worst battle there is, and you have to be the mom and equip them for this fight.
Goins said being part of what she called the sisterhood of the Jays Hope moms helps her to stay strong for the fight her child endures.
People can emphasize with you, but these mothers understand exactly what I am going through. There is a trust and connection and a bond with these women that is stronger than no other.
Evenings like the one at Salon Fusion help Goins and the other moms to stay focused on their job as a mom helping their child fight cancer.
Jays Hope and Cindy reminds us that it is OK to take a moment for myself, Goins said. We need to charge up, to stay strong, so that we can continue to fight for our children.
Contact Alline Kent at 396-2467 or email@example.com.