Jaydon was only two-years-old when he was diagnosed with a very rare and aggressive type of cancer: clear cell sarcoma of the kidney.

The size of a cantaloupe! The words screamed out at me as I listened to the surgeon and oncologists describe the size of the mass found within my son’s kidney. It seemed ironic because cantaloupe was one of Jaydon’s favorite fruits and was now being used to describe this unknown cancer.

Jaydon was only two and the picture of good health. He was hardly ever sick and was spirited and playful. He had shown no signs of sickness, and if it weren’t for a lively wresting match with his daddy over the Thanksgiving holiday, we may have not noticed the mass until it was too late. Thankfully, my husband had discovered that Jaydon’s belly was bulging on the left side and was as hard as a rock. The days that followed were frightening and blurry as doctors confirmed the worst: Jaydon had cancer.

After undergoing surgery, Jaydon’s left kidney and the tumor were removed. The cancer turned out to be a very rare and aggressive type: clear cell sarcoma of the kidney. Only about 20 children in the U.S. are diagnosed with the cancer each year, which had the potential to spread to Jaydon’s brain and bones and would require intensive chemotherapy. This meant seven months of treatment, requiring Jaydon to be hospitalized at Rady Children’s Hospital-San Diego.

Jaydon was eating ice cream at the Oceanside Harbor following his first round of chemotherapy. I remember watching the clumps of hair fall out of his head and blow into the ocean as his ice cream dripped down his face. I tried to mask the look of horror and disbelief that must have registered at that moment. It was perhaps one of the most frightening moments for me as a mother. My son seemed so young and vulnerable, and I dreaded the journey that lay ahead for him. But Jaydon persevered and finished his ice cream, just as he would persevere in the days ahead.

Rady Children’s became our second home. Chemotherapy was grueling and isolated Jaydon from his peers, his family and his community, but he did not let cancer get the best of him. Jaydon could be found racing through the halls on his IV pole or leading dance parties and parades from his Hospital room, and his spirit seemed to inspire others. He could be a kid even in the most trying circumstances.

The care and support Jaydon received was phenomenal. Not only did he benefit from state-of-the-art technology and the expertise of the doctors and nurses, but he was loved and cared for. Our family felt comfortable and supported at the Hospital, where doctors, nurses, child life specialists and volunteers became trusted friends and companions.

After seven long months, Jaydon’s body showed no signs of the cancer. He is now a very active and curious four-year-old, who believes he can conquer the world – and he just might. He loves to race his cars, crash his trains, splash in the ocean and climb mountains. People have asked us how we managed to find strength to get through Jaydon’s battle with cancer; it’s simple: through the love and support of family, friends, strangers and the incredible staff at Rady Children’s. Jaydon felt that love and so did we!  His journey has taught us to be thankful for each day, persevere through the present and celebrate no matter how small or big the accomplishment.