Jasper's Journey

ARGENTA, ILL. (WAND) -- A WAND news update on a story that we reported on last month. The Central Illinois community has been raising money for a 1-year-old boy named Jasper Swafford who is battling leukemia.

 The Swafford family received exciting news this week regarding Jasper's treatment. 

 "Our jaws dropped to the floor pretty much. I just couldn't process it. It was mind-blowing we couldn't believe it we were just completely overwhelmed,” Tommy and Tricia Swafford, Jasper's parents said.

  Tommy and Tricia Swafford got the news that St. Louis Children's Hospital found a blood donor match for Jasper. The Swafford family is at the hospital this weekend getting Jasper prepped for a Car T-Cell transplant that will happen on Wednesday. The Car T-Cells will help Jasper fight the cancer for him. Then, after a four week recovery from that transplant, Jasper will then undergo a bone marrow transplant – that if successful – can cure Jasper of his Leukemia.

 "There's been a study where 16 infants with the same Leukemia and everything that had the car-t cell transplant and then 10 of the 16 went through with the bone marrow transplant and all of them are in re-mission and doing well," Tommy Swafford said.

 The Swafford family has re-newed hope that if everything works, they’ll be able to live a normal life with Jasper.

"There's a lot of things that we're missing out on. He's never been to a park to swing. That's one of the things that you cherish the most when they're babies is doing all of those things and we haven't been able to do that yet so this our hope that next year that he will have a head full of hair and we'll be able to take him out swimming. This is our last chance really,” Tommy Swafford said.

  But with every news of hope, there always came news of frustration – leaving the family asking the question “why us” during the course of this past year.

 "There's been a lot of times where we felt that. We asked that question why. This whole thing has kind of renewed my faith just because it's something that you cling to. A lot of people would lose their faith because you would get angry and you do get angry. You get mad and you question everything. This little boy hasn't done anything. Why him. I think there's a bigger picture to everything," Tommy Swafford said. 

  Also during this journey – the family has been overcome with support for jasper – the family started a Facebook page called Jasper’s Journey – a page that was meant to post updates for family members turned into thousands of people following Jasper’s progress – some from out of state that the Swafford family doesn’t even know. They are blessed for every person who has joined them on this journey.

 "Everyone that has liked that page or helped by donating or just praying or anything that - they are a part of our family now.  And he'll hopefully someday he'll get to meet every single one of those people and that's a promise that I made to myself and him he will know all of these people that have backed him this whole time. We're going to have a big party. The day that he get's to ring that bell i that hospital we're throwing a huge party and everyone that has been there for us and for him. Everyone's invited so we're just looking forward to that day whenever it comes,” Swafford said. 

 A party rightfully so because everything about this past year has taken a toll on the Swafford family – the two hour drive back and forth to the St. louis Hospital – sometimes trips there lasting up to five weeks has made family time next to impossible for the Swafford’s. So what they’ve taken away is the old clique “don’t take anything in life for granted.”

 "But it really comes down to your family. Money is not everything. Possession is not everything. Family is. Because one day you might not have your family,” Tommy Swafford said. 

 A life without jasper is one that the Swafford’s don’t ever want to imagine which is why the next two years after his treatments are critical for the rest of jasper’s life.

 "There's no chemo. We just wait and see how his body reacts. They'll take his blood and they'll see if here is any signs of disease. but as far as chemo goes there's no more. There's a certain percentage after Year 1 and Year 2. If he makes it past the second year that's a really good sign that all of this is going to work. We still have a long road ahead but we are hopeful."

 If you want to donate money or offer Jasper prayers, you can go to the Swafford family's Facebook page called "Jasper's Journey" where the family has a PayPal account set up in the "About" section on the page. 

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