The two non-germinomatous tumors in little Jaden's brain were detected during the MRIs done in August this year.
It all started with excessive thirst and fatigue for Joey and Jihan Cerda's son. As the parents noticed his symptoms, Jaden's condition started becoming even more concerning.
Joey spoke to People about his concerns and said, "We were thinking he might be diabetic or have sleep apnea. We never thought it was more serious than that. Jaden was healthy. He was a wild man when he was little. He played football, soccer, Jiu-Jitsu—he did everything."
But as this energetic child began to look tired and weak, the parents began to notice he wasn't entirely himself anymore. Describing the changes in his son, "He just didn’t have that spark [of energy] he normally does... and we didn’t know why. He would sleep all night and then he would be dozing off on the couch and we'd go over and say, 'Come on, let's get up and go outside." This alarmed the parents so they decided to get tests done but because of pandemic, they were postponed to July.
The father of three who works as a personal trainer described his son as a generous kid who would always put others before him and an "old soul." He also described him not only as the best son but also as the "best friend" to his little sister. Unfortunately, it took only a year for Jaden to experience "tiredness and extreme thirst" to the point that he drank a gallon of water a day.
Recalling those days, Joey said, "At first, you're thinking, 'Good job, buddy, you're drinking water,' because we promote that in our house, but he couldn't get enough. I could hear him getting up in the middle of the night, aggressively drinking water like he had been in the desert."
The 10-year-old's blood tests were done along with diabetes and lumbar puncture but they came negative. However, he started experiencing blurry vision with abnormal urine tests. That is when the doctors suggested MRI.
"I was still calm, but I begged to be able to stay in the MRI room with him because they don't let you. I was like, 'I need to hold onto his hand.' I pretty much jumped into the tunnel with him, and he did so great. He had no fear," said Joey.
Once multiple MRIs were done, they got the news on August 21, which left them speechless. Jaden had two non-germinomatous tumors on his brain near his pituitary gland. Talking about the struggles of being a parent and being the support system for an ailing child, the 44-year-old father said, "When you're an adult and 40, every headache you get, you're like, 'This is it.' But when you're looking at a kid, there's no way. It completely blindsides you as a parent."
He had to be hospitalized immediately. "You can't even imagine it. "It feels like your soul leaves your body and everything around you, within two seconds, becomes completely meaningless. Nothing matters but your child's safety and health," Joey said
The father revealed that the doctors won't be able to begin the treatment unless the speed of the tumor's growth and the type of cancer is determined through a biopsy. "That was so devastating, but as parents, you really quickly have to navigate how you're gonna do this," he said and continued, "We don't want any negative anticipation or fear for him because that won't serve him through this. We're trying to keep his spirits up and keep him happy and positive." He also revealed that Jaden's chemotherapy will begin during the procedure.
Though the journey has been tough for the entire family, the positivity and support from their loved ones have kept them going. Explaining their struggles Joey said, "There's so much going on right now and a lot of hate and anger and fighting [on the news] but there's also so much love and togetherness and kindness out there. It's there, and it feels like it's all for my son right now."
"I would have never understood how powerful the love feels [if I hadn't gone through this]. You can move mountains with it," he added. "We would take his place in two seconds and so would a lot of people around us. Knowing he has so many people who would be willing to fight for him is such a powerful thing and it's making the biggest difference right now," he added further.
A GoFundMe page has been set up by the mother Jihan's best friend Arielle Rowe to raise funds for helping the family's medical expenses. Out of the original goal of $250,000 the family has successfully raised $221,205.
Thanking the wellwishers of his son, Joey said, "The outpouring of love and kindness towards our family is the most beautiful thing I've ever seen. It gives me goosebumps." He continued, "My son is going through this but all the love is such a powerful thing and he's thriving because of it."