Jesse has high-functioning autism. Like most kids his age, Jesse would live his daily life carefree, enjoying going to school and being with his friends. Amidst a transitional time in their lives with Jesse's mom between jobs and finishing graduate school, and just one week after his 12th birthday this past spring, Jesse received the devastating news that he had been diagnosed with Hodgkin's Lymphoma.
"This came to us as a complete shock," his mother Cheyenne shared.
Jesse would have to undergo a rigorous treatment plan to tackle the terrifying diagnosis. But he faced the fears and anxieties of a critical illness with courage and determination, never giving up. For over five months, Jesse's life was put on hold. After an immediate 10-day inpatient stay at Children's Specialized Hospital, Robert Wood Johnson Barnabas Health, Jesse would undergo weekly hospital visits, bi-weekly chemotherapy, and completing his treatment plan with radiation five days per week. In October, Jesse finally completed treatment.
"He's back in school now, and we're waiting for his port to be removed," Cheyenne continued. "Soon, we'll have a PET scan to see if all is clear."
Amidst the turmoil of treatment, Jesse was referred to Make-A-Wish. As soon as he heard he would experience the life-changing power of a wish, Jesse knew right away that he did not want to travel anywhere. From his very first day in the hospital, in fact, he had shared with his mom that he wished he had a small puppy to cuddle with, to make him "feel a little better" during the difficult, lonely days and nights. When he was asked that powerful question, "if you could have one wish, what would it be?", Jesse didn't hesitate. His wish was for a Pembroke Welsh Corgi puppy, and he named it "Loki."
"Loki has done everything she was asked to do as Jesse's wish – she cuddles with him every night, and makes him 'feel a little better'," shared Cheyenne. "She's sassy and amazing! She comforts him, she shows him so much excitement when he comes home from school…Loki is a support for Jesse, more than I ever could be."
Jesse's first meeting with his new best friend took place at the Samuel & Josephine Plumeri Wishing Place, a magical and whimsical wish-granting castle that Make-A-Wish New Jersey calls home.
"It was a magical experience!" Cheyenne exclaimed. "We toured the castle, and he declared his wish there. Make-A-Wish is amazing."