Thu | Jan 21, 2021

‘Help me save my son’ - 9-y-o cancer patient wants to minister to sick kids for Christmas

Published:Thursday | November 26, 2020 | 12:15 AMJudana Murphy/Gleaner Writer
Raje Josephs (second left), a nine-year-old with cancer, sitting with mom Vanessa Williams-Morgan and the rest of the family. Also in photo are Ralston Morgan, his mom’s husband, and Ace Morgan, his two-year-old brother. The family is seeking financial a
Raje Josephs (second left), a nine-year-old with cancer, sitting with mom Vanessa Williams-Morgan and the rest of the family. Also in photo are Ralston Morgan, his mom’s husband, and Ace Morgan, his two-year-old brother. The family is seeking financial assistance for lymphoma treatment for Raje.
Raje Josephs wears one of the custom shirts his mom sells to raise funds for his cancer treatment.
Raje Josephs wears one of the custom shirts his mom sells to raise funds for his cancer treatment.
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Nine-year-old Raje Josephs has been battling with stage four Hodgkin’s lymphoma for more than a year and is in urgent need of a life-saving bone marrow transplant after undergoing nine cycles of chemotherapy and 26 cycles of radiation.

Cancer of the lymphatic system results in a weakened immune system and increased vulnerability to infections.

“Physically, he looks fine, but on the inside, where the lymph nodes are - his heart, lungs, kidneys, testicles - the cancer is present,” his mother, Vanessa Williams-Morgan, told The Gleaner in an interview on Wednesday.

Williams-Morgan noticed an enlarged lymph node on her son’s neck in early 2018 and consulted paediatricians and general practitioners, who downplayed the signs as allergies and assured her that there was no need for concern.

As time progressed, Raje’s mom could feel two lumps, but it was not until Easter of 2018, when she was browsing through the photos they had taken at the family beach trip earlier that day that she recognised that his head was tilted.

She immediately interrogated him about whether he was in pain or had any other symptoms, but he had no complaints.

Williams-Morgan remembers vividly the day she learnt of his diagnosis at The University Hospital of the West Indies, following a biopsy.

“It’s like the weight of what it actually is just came crashing down,” she said.

BREAKING THE NEWS

Williams-Morgan delayed telling Raje and continued the required testing, but he learnt of the diagnosis during a church service as the pastor prayed for him.

His mother acknowledged that she was uncertain how to break the news but was disappointed about the way he found out.

“He said, ‘Imagine I have cancer and I’m gonna die and you kept it from me!’” she recounted, adding that she had to reassure him that she would fight to keep him alive.

The stage four cancer was reduced to 1B at the end of chemotherapy, and radiation was recommended to remove the remainder from his spleen.

Raje completed radiation treatment in August, and his prospects were promising until his mother received the results of a PET scan last month that revealed that the cancer had metastasised, meaning that it had spread to other parts of the body.

He now needs an autologous bone marrow transplant, which includes removal of healthy blood cells from the body, intensive chemotherapy or radiation therapy treatment, and then the return of healthy cells.

The transplant could range from US$7,000 (J$1 million) to US$60,000 (J$8.8 million) and will be scheduled to be done in Cuba.

After ploughing into their savings and home reno budget, the family’s financial resources have been depleted. Raje’s mother has also begged for donations in Spanish Town and left fundraising boxes in a few establishments as well as having sold custom T-shirts to generate funds.

The nine-year-old has not been to school since his diagnosis, and although the COVID-19 pandemic has interrupted life for many, it has allowed the grade four student to attend online classes at Marlie Mount Primary.

In a very low tone, Raje said: “Sometimes I think I can’t do it, but Mommy always told me, ‘Push, believe in God, and pray.’”

Raje recalled that last December, he prayed and asked God to allow him to spend Christmas at home, promising that he would find a way to warm the hearts of children in hospitals during the festive season in later years.

On December 24, 2019, he was discharged from hospital. This year, with the help of his aunt, he will be donating toys to sick children.

“It would be a joy for him to get this transplant, and I believe that he is going to come out victorious ... ,” Williams-Morgan said.

“This would mean the world to me if the good people of this world could help me save my son.”

judana.murphy@gleanerjm.com

Donations can be made to the following accounts:

Bank: Scotiabank

Account name: Vanessa Williams

Branch: Old Harbour

AC#: 420582

Bank: NCB

Account name: Vanessa Williams

Branch: Old Harbour

AC#: 874-098-779