“Wow, these are truly wonderful!” And then in discussion that they are so excited that they do not have to use a hospital towel. Parents have found the notebooks especially helpful, to write down their questions for the physicians/care conferences.
Currently we provide hygiene kits to Phoenix Children's Hospital. As children are admitted to the hospital kits are handed out to parents. I would eventually like to take the kits to Cardon Children's Hospital. (Devin was also a patient of Banner Desert and Cardon Children's Hospital). From there I would like to donate kits to every hospital in the valley. Even adults whose friends and family have been admitted to the hospital need a chance to freshen up and could use a kit.
Devin's Gift is a non-profit Arizona corporation. We have a 501(c)(3) non-exempt tax status so all donations can be written off on your tax return. You can double check our tax status on the IRS website. Donations are taken using PayPal on our website www.devinsgift.org. We are also on Facebook and Twitter.
We have donated over 100 kits to Phoenix Children's Hospital. Hopefully someday we will be able to expand to Cardon Children's Hospital and eventually every hospital in the Valley.
I could not do any of this without the help of my supporters. Thank you! Thank you! If you would like to see who they are please see the supporter's tab on our website. What I am doing really means a lot to me because I am so grateful for the all the support and gifts we received when Devin was sick! This also helps me with my grief and keeping Devin's memory alive. I am just so glad do to it for the parents of kids who are hospital. I've been there and now what it feels like. Prayers to all those families.
My name is Jessica.I have lived in Arizona most of my life and I am proud to call Arizona
my home.There was a brief time when my
family and I moved away from Arizona to
be near my ill father in Illinois.We
moved there in October 2005.Sadly a
month after arriving in Illinois, my father passed away.We decided to try and make a go of it and
stayed.Found jobs, bought a house
etc.After a while I became unhappy and
homesick.Illinois never felt like home.I missed Arizona and my old life there.I began to try to find a new job in Arizona
to enable me to return.
Then something wonderful happened.I got pregnant with my second son,
Devin.I was happy about it, but I
longed for Arizona so much I was discouraged that a pregnancy meant I had to
stay longer in Illinois.I had to stay
until Devin was born, while I had a job and health insurance.
My pregnancy was a little challenging.I got gestational diabetes right away.It could not be controlled by diet so I had
to have insulin injections on top of finger sticks 4 to 6 times a day.It also meant more doctors’ appointments. You
do what you have to do though to insure a healthy baby! Devin was what was
important.Near the end of the pregnancy
it was determined that Devin’s kidneys were distended, but the thought was it
would just be monitored.
Devin was born early in the morning during a blizzard in
January 2008.It was frigid out.I was scheduled to have a C-section.Even the anesthesiologist was late because of
bad roads.The hospital was so empty it
felt vacant.It felt like we were the
only ones in the world.Regardless,
Devin arrived without complication.He
was beautiful.All babies are a
blessing!Devin joined his big brother
John in our quaint family.While at the
hospital Devin had to have a special radiology exam for his kidneys.It turned out he had a mild stage of
hydronephrosis of both kidneys.It’s
just a fancy word for distended kidneys.Thankfully it didn’t require surgery.All he needed was one year of antibiotics to avoid kidney
infections.It would hopefully resolve
on its own.We could handle that right?
After Devin came home from the hospital, and while I was on
maternity leave from my job, I began looking for a new job again in
Arizona.We had already put our house up
for sale.Miraculously I got my old job
back.As soon as the doctor released me,
we were on our way back to Arizona.We
actually left right when I got home from the doctor’s office.Devin was just 2 months old.Driving with a newborn and a 3 year old
across country is challenging enough but I didn’t care.We were on our way home to Arizona.The trip was indeed adventurous.The U-Haul truck towing our car got stuck in
mud in Missouri.The trailer towing the
car blew a tire in a remote part of Oklahoma.My son John threw up all over the bed we were sleeping in at the hotel
in New Mexico.He got food poisoning or
some stomach bug.He threw up in the car
periodically most of the next day.After
all that, we finally made it back to Arizona in April 2008.We blissfully went on to re-establish our
lives here in Arizona.The next few
months were pretty uneventful.
When Devin turned one he had to have another study to look
at his kidneys.Good news, his kidneys
were 100% normal.He could be taken off
antibiotics.No more doctors for
us.Our happiness was short lived.Three months later, one year after we moved
to Arizona, Devin became suddenly ill.Initially, I thought he had the flu or a cold.He never got a fever though.I thought it would just pass whatever he
had.But he began to sleep more and
more.His breathing became labored.He eventually stopped eating and
drinking.If he did drink he threw it
up.I took him to urgent care, but they
didn’t know what was wrong with him.I
then took him to the ER.Before I knew
it, after a chest x-ray and a CT scan, we were being admitted to the hospital.The only thing I overheard about what was
going on was that Devin wasn’t moving any air on from the left lung. Huh? We
were taken to the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit.About 45 minutes after we arrived at the
hospital, the doctor was telling me that Devin had to have a chest tube and
would be intubated.WHAT???I thought the worst would be is that Devin
would just need 24 hours of IV antibiotics and we’d be good to go.This was not what happened at all!A week later after all this testing and Devin
being in a medical coma, it was determined that Devin had Non-Hodgkin’s
Lymphoma.That’s right CANCER!No word a parent ever wants to hear.Devin was only 15 months old.
Well here we go.Even
though it was cancer, Devin’s prognosis was good.He had an 82% chance of beating it!That’s great!No problem right?The treatment
protocol called for chemotherapy for two years.Nine months of which was fairly intensive.Our whole life changed, but we adapted.I was glad I was in Arizona because of all
our friends and family.I was also
fairly familiar with the medical community because of my job and I was happy
with Devin’s care.If we were in
Illinois still, I would have been blind as to hospitals and doctors and their
reputations.I would have been
lost.So I was glad to be in good ole
Arizona.Ultimately, Devin responded to
his treatment well.
Unfortunately, Devin did not complete his treatment.His cancer came back a year and half later.
He was again in the hospital.Devin’s
chances of survival were now dramatically decreased.He developed other complications that kept
him in the hospital longer than anticipated.Thank goodness we were now at Phoenix Children’s Hospital--an amazing
hospital.This recurrence meant Devin
also needed a bone marrow transplant.We
were in a roller coaster ride.Once
Devin’s cancer came back, he only came home once from the hospital.That was in November 2010.It was only for a couple of weeks, just
before he was to be admitted again for transplant.We celebrated Christmas one month early so
our family could all be together.On
December 14, 2010 (my birthday) Devin was admitted to PCH for his
transplant.He received his stem cells
on Christmas Eve (December 24th).He had his third birthday (while still in the hospital) one month later
on January 22, 2011.He had responded
well to the transplant.He progressed as
expected and there was an end in sight as far as leaving the hospital.Devin was discharged from the hospital the
end of January 2011. Our reprieve would be short lived.
Devin was barely home two weeks from the hospital when we
found out Devin’s cancer was back AGAIN!Horror struck!There was no more
treatment to be had.We now knew that
Devin would die.It was February 16,
2011.Devin never came home again.Devin died on February 24, 2011 exactly two
months after he received his stem cells.Life was never going to be the same again.
Devin’s story does not end there.Throughout the whole ordeal of Devin’s
illness we met so many wonderful people.We had so much support both from people we knew and strangers.Our family was embraced by so much love and generosity.Devin’s caregivers were wonderful!He received so many gifts from various
sources while he was under care.He got
a free DVD player, lots of toys, a bicycle for his birthday, lots of stuffed
animals and Hot Wheels cars etc.All to
make his life easier while he endured so much.The rest of the family received gifts too.We were adopted for Christmas, we received
gift cards.The love and support abounded
during everything.It was all so
amazing.It was a amazing to realize how
much goodness there is in this world.People do come together in
hard times.I had never experienced it
for myself until Devin got sick.I am so
thankful to everyone who touched our lives.
Because we received so much, I
wanted to give back for all that we were given.At this point in my life since the loss of Devin, it is still so hard to
go near or into a hospital or clinic setting because of memories of Devin and
what he went through.But I want to give
back because of all the love and support my family received from others.
I know as a parent with a
suddenly ill child it’s the worst feeling in the world.The helplessness alone is tormenting.And then, to be admitted to the hospital when
you least expect it is overwhelming.You
are stuck there without the basic necessities.Your mind is focused on your child whose side you don’t want to
leave.You have no toothbrush, no decent
towel.Knowing this and wanting to help
parents, I created Devin’s Gift, a non-profit corporation.Devin’s Gift provides care packages for
parents of sick children who are unexpectedly admitted to the hospital.
My goal, through Devin’s Gift is
to provide parents in these situations with a care package to give them what is
needed to shower until they have time to go home or until someone brings them
the things they need.So they can feel a
little better after taking a hot shower and brushing their teeth, even if the
moment only lasts for a few minutes.I
am hoping these little creature comforts will renew parents and their strength
and courage before taking their child’s side again.I want to bring a little peace in the middle
of chaos because I know what it feels like and if I can make someone feel
better even for a
moment our job is done.I do this for Devin to remember him for his life and not his disease and
Each parent receives in the kit a
brightly colored towel and washcloth, tooth paste, tooth brush, dental floss,
razor or deodorant, shampoo, conditioner, lotion, mouthwash, Chapstick, a pen
and a notepad for taking notes.