Meet the Guindons
It was just another day in West Springfield, MA, when four-year-old Jack Guindon happened to take a tumble while riding his tricycle in the backyard. Mom, Joanna, rushed out to kiss away his tears and boo-boos, and the incident was quickly past. That night, Jack began acting strangely and his parents took him to the emergency room to rule out any internal bleeding. Though Jack’s blood count was a little low, neither the doctor nor the pediatrician at a follow-up appointment found anything to be wrong. But over the next week, Jack’s blood count dropped so low that he ended up back in the hospital, with a scary diagnosis.
“You never think that your healthy kid has cancer,” said Joanna. “He had just had a physical and passed with flying colors, and just had all his vaccinations too.” Jack was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia – ALL – a common, yet dangerous form of childhood cancer.
The next four years were dominated by hospital stays and treatments to combat Jack’s illness. Joanna and her husband, Tom, had to split their days between staying at the hospital with Jack and staying at home with his sisters, Keely and newborn Megan.
A family friend who had stayed at the Believe In Tomorrow Children’s House at Johns Hopkins in Baltimore, MD, recommended the Guindons to check out Believe In Tomorrow’s programs. Although Jack was too sick to travel when he was initially accepted into Believe In Tomorrow’s respite program, the family was excited about the prospect of getting away together.
In June 2010 they finally got the chance for a respite from illness by taking a week at the beach in Ocean City, MD. The five Guindons checked into the Believe In Tomorrow House by the Sea and began planning their fun-filled week. They relaxed on the beach, swam in the indoor pool at the Holiday Inn, spent a day at the Jolly Roger water park, went horseback riding, and even drove the Coast Guard boat, where they got to see dolphins playing in the water nearby! They also had a family portrait taken on the beach, which provided them with some much-needed current family photos.
Jack finished treatment in October 2010, which was also when the family got to take part in a Believe In Tomorrow Hands On Riding Adventures with the Professional Bull Rider. No better way to celebrate a victory than to do it with some real-life cowboys!
Jack and his family squeezed in one more respite trip in 2011, this time to the other side of Maryland at the Believe In Tomorrow House on Wisp Mountain. Joanna and Tom tucked the kids into the car in the middle of the night, hoping they would sleep the majority of the nine-hour ride…they didn’t, of course. The kids loved swimming in the nearby lake, as well as fishing at the state reservoir. They played games at a couple of arcades, whipped around on the Wisp mountain coaster, and the two older kids flew between the trees on the zip lining course.
Joanna said their favorite part of the respite program has simply been the opportunity to get away and try to forget about illness. Jack will be one year post-treatment in October, which certainly gives his family a reason to celebrate. According to Jack, the next Guindon family adventure just might take place on a Disney cruise…now how about THAT for believing in tomorrow!