Over four years, 6-year-old Jaxson Martinez of Uvalde, TX, endured three cancer surgeries, seven rounds of chemo, 18 radiation and immunotherapy treatments, and 40 blood and platelet transfusions. But his family’s faith never wavered. In fact, it became stronger.
With Jaxson now a neuroblastoma survivor—he rang the bell to mark the end of active cancer treatment, leaving the hospital with the words: “I’m out of here. I’m not coming back!”—the Martinez family still thanks God as a show of faith and healing.
As it says in Romans 4:20: “He was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God.” Put another way: “Faith is what rooted us to the ground and helped us through,” Jaxson’s dad, Juan Martinez, said. “We have always been thankful, through the good times and the bad.”
Praying that good times for a child will forever outnumber the bad is every parent’s wish, but has an added dimension for those whose kids who have been through cancer. That’s why Jaxson’s family puts faith into practice, with intention.
For example, it has become a tradition for three generations of Martinez men—father, son and grandson—to spend time in Eucharistic adoration upon news of clear scans for Jaxson. Juan said, “We have always found it important to go and thank Jesus in person … to go to his house at a church.”
Often this happens at Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Uvalde, where the family has worshiped for decades. But when Jaxson was a patient at Methodist Children’s Hospital in San Antonio, 85 miles from home, sometimes for months at a time, the hospital chapel or St. Matthew’s Church nearby was the place for prayer and thanksgiving.
“From a young age, we have taught Jaxson to give thanks and to show gratitude,” Juan said. “It makes your faith stronger. I could not imagine going through something like this without faith by our side.”
Or without family and friends.
Juan and his wife, Judy, are Uvalde natives who met while working at the Town House, a restaurant on Main Street owned by Juan’s parents. Because of their deep roots, Jaxson’s diagnosis of stage 4 high risk neuroblastoma was a blow to nearly everyone in town.
So, in response, nearly everyone in town rallied around the family. From blood drives and fundraisers to constant prayer, Uvalde lifted up Jaxson and his parents.
The support helped Judy and Juan “divide and conquer.” Six months pregnant when Jaxson was diagnosed, Judy sometimes had to be apart from her son during treatment that could have harmed her unborn daughter.
When Baby Jillian arrived, safe and sound, Judy was on newborn duty, while Juan stayed at their son’s hospital bedside.
Jaxson’s hospital stays were frequent and long—once as long as 59 days. Each time, his grandparents were there, traveling between Uvalde, Sabinal and San Antonio. “They were there every single day, to watch Jillian, so Judy could join Jaxson and I at the hospital,” Juan said. “It was a lot of sacrifice for everyone.”
Seeing Jaxson today is repayment for every sacrifice. At a recent luncheon to celebrate the baptism of Baby Justice, the newest member of the Martinez family, Jaxson could be seen swiping at the frosting on the christening cupcakes and mischievously reaching for his grandfather’s cell phone.
Just regular little-boy stuff. But after years of fear and worry, and heartbreak for children like Jaxson who have not survived, Judy said the “regular stuff” matters the most. And she thinks God has a job in mind for Jaxson: “I don’t know what this little boy is going to do, but it is going to be something special. Maybe he will become the doctor to figure out the cure for neuroblastoma.”
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