By Ms. Carolyn Tyus, Jada's mom
In 2012, President Obama proclaimed September as National Childhood Cancer Awareness Month to bring awareness to pediatric cancer, which remains the leading cause of death by disease for children under the age of 14.
Here are some facts:
1. Forty-three children in the U.S. are diagnosed with cancer every day.
2. Worldwide, approximately 400,000 children and adolescents are diagnosed with cancer each year.
3. Nearly 10% of children with cancer develop the disease because they inherited a genetic mutation.
4. More than 95% of childhood cancer survivors have significant treatment-related health issues.
Each year, the parents of more than 17,000 children aged 0-19 in the U.S. will hear the words, "Your child has cancer."
On May 12, 2009, Jada Sharheim Tyus Thornton (youngest child of six children) was told by Dr. Raymond Watts, Chief Oncologist, that she had cancer. At that point, I dropped a tear. I remember Jada, at 11 years old asked the doctor, "When does my treatment start?" Jada was diagnosed with a rare form of bone cancer called, Osteosarcoma.
Her chemo treatment started at 12 years old, in which she had a total knee replacement with the partial tibia. Jada never let this situation define her. In fact, Jada became more determined, motivated, and inspired to not just herself but to her peers and family with trusting and leaning on God. Jada continued to play softball through Little League. She played pitcher and first base for Carver High School.
Jada was a member of the National Honor Society, Mu Alpha Theta, Manager of the Lady Wolverine Basketball team, 12th grade attendant for the Class of 2014, Salutatorian for the Class of 2014 with numerous awards and scholarships. More importantly, Jada was a faithful member of Bethel Missionary Baptist Church under the leadership of Pastor Calvin McTier, where she served on the Junior Usher Board, Adviser Board to the youth & young adults, choir member, and welcome ministry member.
As a mother, I, Carolyn Tyus, remembered the doctor's comments that Jada may never be able to do sports or much of anything. Jada proved over and over again that God had her! One of Jada's favorite quotes was "I Got This!" In 2016, during Jada's sophomore year at Troy University, in Troy, Alabama, where she was majoring in Bachelor of Science in Nursing, her cancer returned in her left knee. Jada was told that her left knee above would have to be amputated. Jada's left knee was amputated on September 28, 2016, and cancer returned in May 2017 in her lungs, and seven nodules were removed.
Once again, cancer returned in May 2018 in the lining of her lungs, and the doctor advised that her left lung and part of her right lung be removed, and she would be on an oxygen tank. At that time, Jada declined to have her lung removed and advised the doctor and staff that she and God would take this journey.
As Jada's parents, her father, Patrick Pete Thornton, known as "Da," as she affectionately called him. As her advocate, I searched and looked for every avenue to help our daughter around the world. Jada advised her support team that she wanted to train to run the Smile-A-Mile Race, which is her favorite charity. Smile-A-Mile's mission is to provide hope, healing of the spirit, and love for the whole family during the Childhood Cancer Journey. Hope is never canceled!
A determined Jada trained and completed the Smile-A-Mile Race in September of 2018 to be told four days later that her cancer was not curable, and she only had two weeks to live. Jada completed her journey here on earth on January 23, 2019, at Children's Hospital in Birmingham with her family and friends surrounding her. Jada always had a huge smile that was so great.
She loved praising and worshiping God when she wasn't watching or attending sports events or hanging with her family and friends. Jada taught us to "Trust Your Passion Not Your Pain!" Princess Warrior Jada's legacy will live forever as her family, friends, and community continue educating and advocating for a cure for Childhood Cancer.
In closing, I would like to remind everyone that childhood cancer has no boundaries. That is, across all ages, ethnic groups, and socioeconomics, this disease remains the number one cause of death by disease in children. For those reasons, I am a devoted supporter, advocate, and champion for a cure against this horrible disease.