A walk to help others

Boothbay, Newcastle families team up to fight childhood cancer
Posted:  Friday, August 15, 2014 - 7:00pm
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Noah Jones would like people to think of a time someone helped them, and the difference it made.

Then, the Newcastle 15-year-old hopes people will want to make a difference for others.

“Know that by doing something that is so simple, you could be saving lives,” he said.

Jones was diagnosed with cancer last year. Chemotherapy put him so far behind in his freshman coursework at Lincoln Academy, that he has been working with a tutor two to three hours a day, seven days a week this summer to catch up and be ready for his sophomore year this fall.

His cancer treatment continues.

The teen has also been taking time to babysit Boothbay’s 3-year-old Jameson Brooks, who is in his own fight against cancer. The boys’ families met in Scarborough at the Maine Children’s Cancer Program, where Brooks and Jones undergo treatment.

Brooks was 4 months old when weight loss and vomiting led to testing that revealed a form of brain cancer known as pilomyxoid astrocytoma; Jones has acute lymphoblastic leukemia, and has had infections and other complications his mother Cathy Jones said have brought him close to death more than once.

Her son said that, for him, the hardest part of the illness hasn’t been what he’s gone through physically, but what his family has gone through. Jones recalled being awake in a bed at a hospital at 1 a.m, when he heard his mother crying in the next room.

“She had been so strong all day. It was so sad.”

Parents sometimes wind up with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder from experiences like hearing their children cry out during treatment, Kristen Brooks said.

“You’re hearing your kid, but there’s nothing you can do,” she said.

Members of the two families also said they live with frustration over the amount of attention and money the cause of childhood cancer gets. It’s not nearly enough, they said; pediatric cancer is a large beast that too many people don’t want to think about, said Jameson Brooks’ grandmother, Lora Rinow of Edgecomb.

That’s where Noah Jones’ request for people to make a difference comes in. The two families have formed a team, “Jamesons Journey/Noah’s Dragons,” to walk in Brunswick next month at a fundraiser for the Maine Children’s Cancer Program. The team is looking for more walkers, and for donors.

“It is literally doing nothing but good,” the teen said about the fundraiser.

To join the team or get information on donating, call Rinow at 207-380-5761; or Heads of the Harbor at 207-633-6088. Or stop by the salon at 50 Union St., Boothbay Harbor, to drop off a donation or pick up pledge sheets.

Kristen Brooks plans to have her son with her on next month’s walk, set for Saturday, Sept. 20, at the Brunswick Recreation Center. Noah Jones also plans to walk.

“I see people all the time who are totally worse off than me. They’re fighting really, really hard,” he said. “I would like to be able to help those people, because I know what they’re going through.”