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Hope for Hayden

Hayden Jilka age 8 undergoing cancer treatment

Our lives changed the day our son Hayden was born. Samantha and I never knew what the love of a child would be like and how much love we would feel while caring for him and watching him grow up. He is an absolute joy to be around and has become quite the polite, loving young man we always knew he would become. His younger brother Garrett (2years old) has also sprouted into an exceptionally bright, loving and full of energy bundle of joy. We couldn't feel more blessed by The Lord with our family. Hayden is an energetic 7 year old, bright, full of love to give, always ready to have fun or make a new friend.

He loves to skateboard, surf, play soccer and other ball sports with his friends and family. Hayden's smile can light up a room, his comedic attitude and warm heart can bring a smile and laugh out of the most dismal situation. He is a true blessing! Thank you Lord! One evening while rough housing in the living room I had Hayden wrapped up in a hold and brushed up against his cheek. Hayden mentioned that his cheek hurt, so as any caring parent would I asked him a few questions and checked out what he had going on. I quickly realized there was something going on and Samantha and I took the necessary steps to have him checked by a doctor for the small growth I had found inside his cheek. The growth was removed without any issues and sent to be tested at UCSF. **(Keep in mind we were told this was an infected salivary gland and the antibiotics to follow were to help any other infection from starting while his mouth healed up)** Roughly a week after the removal my wife received a phone call out of the blue from the doctor who had removed the growth... And the news wasn't good.

The growth had tested malignant as cancer. I was contacted at work and immediately left for home. Shortly after arriving home there was another phone call... Lucille Packard children's hospital for blood disease and cancer at Stanford. We were instructed to be there as quickly as possible to begin running tests and scans on our oldest son Hayden. Our lives changed in an instant...the struggles of daily life, the financial struggles...all the insignificant BS I complained about was gone! The only thing I could think of was my best buddy, my surf partner, my little skater dude and how to protect him and get him healthy. Throughout the next couple weeks the once blurred picture of our future as a family became clearer than ever.

My son Hayden would need a pretty extensive treatment plan over the next year and we were along for the ride weather we liked it or not. His diagnoses is rhabdomyosarcoma, which is a cancer of the soft tissue. The tumor found is located in between his inner and outer cheek on the left side of his face which leaves very little tissue to deal with during a surgical removal. The prognosis is good, 90% chance of getting rid of the cells through treatment and dealing with the side effects. Chemotherapy and radiation are our only options for treatment at this point. We trust The Lord will guide the hands, hearts and minds throughout his treatment at Stanford over the next year. As you know this type of continued care will be very expensive, and we are also trusting our Lord Jesus Christ to provide for us during this trial in our lives.

The Lord works in mysterious ways, and if you feel compelled to donate to our family in any way please feel free to do so whether it be a meal to eat, support through prayer or a financial donation everything is helpful. I hope to have a better idea of our immediate needs later this week following his first treatment today and once we get him home...I will update as soon as possible. Romans 8:28 And we know that in all things God works for the good of those that love him, who have been called according to his purpose. Thanks, Nate jilka and the Jilka Family