cancer

Middle School Student Shares Story to Encourage Others Fighting Cancer

Jaxon Starling, 12, wants to bring attention to Childhood Cancer Awareness Month and North Texas Giving Day to help others battling cancer

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Like most 12-year-olds, Jaxon Starling loves sports, animals and hanging out with his family.

Starling has a guinea pig named Moon, and when he's not taking care of her, he's out running. Last year he was on the track team and also played soccer.

"When he first started complaining about his leg hurting, we were thinking it was from him running track," said Shay Roberts, Starling's mom.

She said over time the pain got worse, to the point where her son was limping and having problems walking. After a visit to the doctor and some tests, in December Starling was diagnosed with stage 4 osteosarcoma, a type of bone cancer that ended up spreading to his lungs.

"Scared, fear, concerned, as a mom that's one of the worst things you can hear, anything about your child and so I had a million thoughts run through my head at once. I think for me first off it was just what do I need to do to make sure my child is okay? Who do I need to take him to? What do we need to do? Let's put together a plan," Roberts explained.

Jaxon immediately started his journey in battling the disease and began chemotherapy at the Pauline Allen Gill Center for Cancer and Blood Disorders at Children's Health.

He also had his right knee replaced and a left lung transplant this year.

Despite what he's gone through, Starling's attitude remains positive and his spirit continues to soar.

"I want to share my story with other kids," Starling said.

He said he wants to give kids in the hospital hope and let them know that they're not alone. He uses pipe cleaners to make figurines he calls "stick men" to hand out to other kids so that they're not alone.

"He is such a humble, humble kid, he doesn't think about himself, he thinks about others all the time, he always says, 'Ms. Sharon you know, I'm going to help them I'm going to talk to them and gives encouraging words and say they're going to be okay,' and he's just so sweet all the way around, I love him,' said Sharon Stewart Walton, Starling's phlebotomist at Children's Health.

She, along with his family and faith are what help motivate him to keep pushing.

Walton understands what Starling and the other kids are going through, she too is battling cancer.

"I wanted the kids to know that they're not in it alone that I'm fighting their battle with them," she said.

The relationship that she and Starling have is something Roberts appreciates for her son and says it's been comforting. They even have matching t-shirts that they wear that says, "His fight is our fight, Jax the great."

"The conversation that we’ve had, she was like, 'As much as I'm going through and I'm battling, I have to be an example for these children to show, Hey if they can go through this and they're going through this situation, I know that I need to push through and show them an example and to be here just as well, so that means so much to me and to so many others," Roberts said.

Between their bond with staff and the family's faith, Roberts said they take it one day at a time and are making it through.

“Things in life happen, and we know that God will never put more on us that we can’t bare, so we started saying trust the process, and we have trusted this process. God has taken through and has allowed to see the end of this journey," Roberts said.

On Wednesday they learned Starling only has two more weeks of chemo and a final lung surgery in October.

"Literally that is it! So as long as the scans look good, Jaxon can say that he beat cancer," Roberts said.

The 12-year-old is pushing for support from the community to help other kids who are battling diseases too. North Texas Giving Day is on Sept., 17 and Children's Medical Center Foundation is one of the thousands of non-profits that benefit from donations from the community.

"North Texas Giving Day is critically important to all non-profits across the region, it's especially powerful here at Children's Health," said Brent Christopher, the President of Children's Medical Center Foundation. "It's the one day out of the year that the entire community rallies together and wrap their arms around the non-profits that mean so much to the quality of life that we enjoy."

Children's Health is a not-for-profit health care system.

"We depend on community support to put some wind beneath wings of the physicians and all the caregivers here as they take care of patients and families all year long and make life better for children," Christopher said.

He said the money benefits the care of patients like Starling and also helps fund research.

"Jaxon is such an incredible trooper, what an incredible story and young man he is. He's got an infectious smile and everything he does to make people feel good around him really covers such powerful and personal stories that he's been through," Christopher said.

"He would be the first to tell you that it means the world him and patients like him to know that people all across Dallas Fort Worth are stepping up on North Texas Giving Day to let him know that they care about him and they want to help ensure that places like Children's Health can meet his needs, provide the best care available for him and do it in world-class facilities with incredible physicians and caretakers," Christopher said.

People can help out through give.childrens.com

Starling's family also has a go fund me set up to help offset medical bills.

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