Driven By Inspiration, Spouses Offering Support Does Their Part | Community Spirit
(Updated 3/15/12) - Anything but cancer. That’s what Jo Lynn Chastain hoped for her son, Brandon, when he was scanned last November and diagnosed with for the third time. She hoped for anything else that would give him a fighting chance. The 11-year-old has been suffering from Embryonal Rhabdomayosarcoma, a rare form of cancer, on and off since 2004 when he was just three years old.
One group is helping Chastain however they can. Spouses Offering Support, wives of Spokane Police officers, met Wednesday morning outside the Garland Theater to caravan to the Chastain home and present to them their help, an undisclosed amount of funds and household goods.
A representative of the group, Stephanie Dahle, says it's to help the single mom get through these challenging times.
The empowered women give back to the community by identifying a family in need, finding stories that are inspirational. They found Chastain at Coaches vs. Cancer where she was the honorary spokesperson last year. With several women packed in Chastain’s living room, Dahle, told Chastain: “Your story projects that without a doubt.”
Chastain had no words for the women as they shared warm embraces and their husbands carried in boxes of donated goods.
“This restores my faith in humanity, “ Chastain told them. Brandon could only sit on the couch and watch the joy around him. His face didn’t match the young smiling boy featured in photographs hanging from the living room wall above him. The left part of his face was swollen. He couldn’t move except for a single shoulder shake, showing him mom that he still loved to dance.
“Can you shake it?” she asked him. He loved dancing and used to “shake his shoulders” with his mom before his illness took over.
It’s been miserable for Brandon, his mother says, but he’s still happy. He’s surrounded by things he loves like Star Wars. He’s wrapped in a blanket with tie-fighters shooting lasers and a life-size R2D2 stands in the living room. It mysteriously showed up on their door step one day. Chastain says the movie is even a theme in the bathroom.
“I was tired of watching Toy Story,” Chastain said. “I threw in the Empire Strikes Back and they were sealed at the hip ever since.”
The third stint of cancer has been the hardest for Brandon. When he was scanned and re-diagnosed in November, the cancer was the biggest it’s ever been. It’s getting just as hard for Chastain. She used to blog about him each time it he was diagnosed, but this time, she didn’t have it in her.
She fights honesty, sugar-coating the situation. She has a friend update Brandon’s Facebook page. His wall is filled with messages of love from friends and friendly. Some of them even recognize his love for Star Wars, calling him a “Jedi warrior.”
As the wives of Spouses Offering Support leave their home, a single shout of “yeah!” chirps out of Chastain’s cell phone. Her text message notification is her son shouting with energy, something everyone wishes he still had.
An account is set up at Spokane Teachers Credit Union under Jo Lynn's and Brandon's name for those who would like to donate to help support the Chastain family. You can read more about Brandon's journey at his website, Brandon's Cancer Wars, and on his Facebook page.