Happy birthday Devyn!
On Maryland's Eastern Shore, Devyn celebrated her 8th birthday and is Casey Cares' 240th birthday this year!
Casey Cares knows that for a critically ill child, each birthday is a special milestone celebrating life. For the children in our programs, it not only marks another year, but it also demonstrates a great achievement. Casey Cares staff and volunteers work hard to send out each of our kids a special birthday package through our Birthday Blast program - we send over 1,000 a year. This simple act of kindness delivers joy and hope to our kids who are undergoing treatment.
Ease and Comfort with Casey Cares
Joining Casey Cares in 2022, Devyn has gone to watch a Baltimore Orioles game, visited the National Aquarium, and seen Riverdance at The Lyric. However, her favorite program she's gotten from Casey Cares so far has been cozy pajamas!
Devyn's mother, Timmeka, says, "Devyn’s pajamas are her new favorites. Pajamas may seem like something small to a lot of people, but not to a kid with cancer. When you spend so much time in rough hospital gowns, you don’t take for granted the soft comforts of home and a “normal” childhood."
The mother's appreciation for her daughter's comfort also extends to Casey Cares.
"Casey Cares makes it easy for families [because] there aren’t extensive forms or asks. There is already so much paperwork associated with treatment and insurance, that I don’t have the capacity to do anything extra. Casey Cares offers help, the fun stuff, in a way that doesn’t add another thing to my ever present list of things to do as a caregiver," Timmeka states.
Two Brain Surgeries
In 2021, Devyn was diagnosed with a high grade Glioma, a type of brain tumor.
According to Timmeka, "We found Devyn’s tumor by accident. She wasn’t exhibiting any signs or symptoms. In fact, the Saturday before we found out she was competing in a gymnastics competition. She had a seizure that doctors thought was related to a fever she had. Out of an abundance of precaution we had an MRI done.
She continues, "Four days later our lives changed forever. My advice to parents is to always advocate when something doesn’t seem quite right."
Devyn has currently undergone 9 weeks total of radiation, 7 rounds of chemotherapy and 2 brain surgeries in just 19 months, but, Timmeka expresses that Devyn "still smiles everyday and hasn’t complained. She has a strong faith and an even stronger will."
Parents - Space for Joy
For Timmeka, being a parent of a critically ill child, and more specifically one with cancer, can be overwhelming.
"Between working, treatments, and doctors appointments there isn’t time to process, or even catch your breath. It’s overwhelming and scary, but there isn’t always space to release that emotion. Even when you are with friends and family, cancer dominates the conversation," she says.
Timmeka expresses, "It’s very easy to become consumed and lose your joy. Parents please be intentional about holding space for joy."
Timmeka conludes, "Devyn’s message is kids with cancer are still kids. She still loves her class at school and art and music. She can’t do what she used to, but she still tries her best to participate in all the things that other kids do."
"The rule in our house is we can’t be more upset or afraid than she is. Devyn has inspired us all."
You can help bring lasting memories to critically ill children like Devyn - click here!