Jeff Gordon Children’s Foundation

Jeff Gordon Children’s Foundation

Published by on Jun 28th 2017
We first met Emily when she was chosen to be in a commercial for the Jeff Gordon Children’s Foundation several years ago (and to this day, we’re pretty sure that it would have been nearly impossible to find a cuter kid). She and Jeff hit it off right away, and Emily and her family have been friends of the JGCF ever since.

We are honored that Emily’s Dad, Jim, agreed to write a blog post for us. His first-hand experience with Emily’s cancer has armed him with a remarkable perspective, and we just love his gentle wit (perhaps honed during his full-time job as a Dad to Emily and her two younger sisters).

DADS DON’T LET GO – By Jim Jones

Whenever I go grocery shopping and I’m in the checkout line, the checker asks the question “How are you doing today?” My response is always the same; “I’m tired! How are you?”

I think Kroger employees have heard me say this at least once a week for the last 13+ years yet they always look puzzled by my honesty.

If they would remember that I’m a stay at home father to three very active girls/ young ladies/ schedule destroyers, they wouldn’t be shocked that I randomly fall asleep at any time sitting up.

I don’t think I have an extenuating medical issue; I’m just a middle-aged dad who desperately wants a quiet space with a pillow.

Father’s Day is the one day each year that I can catch my breath, because I usually don’t have to do chores, cook meals, or even wake up early. My incredible wife makes sure that I’m off kid patrol and the entire family goes out of their way to make me feel special.

I know that I’m blessed this way and please believe me when I say that I don’t take it for granted. Having a ‘normal’ life like the one I have now does not go unappreciated.

My oldest daughter, Emily, was 10 days shy of her 4th birthday when scans revealed that she had bilateral Wilms’ tumors, also known as stage 5 nephroblastoma.
Emily Kept A Smile Even During This Difficult Time
Due to her diagnosis and the plan for treatment, Emily had 8 surgeries, 5 months of chemotherapy, 6 days of radiation therapy, and countless hurdles to jump over and navigate through before she reached the age of 6.
Emily’s Treatment Was Intense Due To The Stage 5 Diagnosis
All the holidays and birthdays that occurred during the intense years after diagnosis were celebrated to the fullest and yet I didn’t personally care about Father’s Day as long as I had more days to be Emily’s dad.

When circumstances force you to think of your child’s future as an ‘if’ rather than a ‘when’, life certainly isn’t the way you dreamt it would be.

We’re almost 10 years away from the day our pediatrician felt a large mass on Emily’s right kidney.

I can still see Dr. V in tears as we walked into the room after she’d been given the radiologist’s preliminary report that there wasn’t just one tumor and that the cancer had spread.

A box of pale yellow tissues was passed around the room and we each took turns reassuring ourselves that Emily was going to be ok. I remember vividly hugging the pediatrician and even trying to make her feel better.

I was a dad that wasn’t going to let his daughter go and damn the diagnosis. The pain I felt that day brings me to tears even now.

This Father’s Day will be the 10th one my family has celebrated since that horrible day in 2007.

Emily is doing well, appears to be very healthy, and is showering my wife and me with all the ‘love’ that a normal teenager unleashes upon her parents.

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