A 9-Year-Old Boy With Cancer Finds Encouragement in Detroit

Jayvon Felton is suffering from acute lymphoblastic leukemia and his hometown made him police chief for a day.

Posted: 02/03/2014 05:10 PM EST
A 9-Year-Old Boy with Cancer Finds Encouragement in Detroit

For 9-year-old Jayvon Felton, a recent experience with the Detroit Police Department was a welcome break from his routine and a cause for incredible joy.

Jayvon was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia and his life has become a maze of chemotherapy sessions, scans and visits to doctors. It is a ritual that often leaves him feeling debilitated and nauseated.

But the staff at Children’s Hospital Michigan arranged for Jayvon, a boy who loves police cars and all things related to law enforcement, to spend a day as Detroit’s police chief. They provided him with a somewhat junior-size police uniform and had him spend the day in police cars, meeting with police and fire officials and even spending time sitting in the chair of Detroit’s mayor, Mike Duggan.

“It was great and I had a lot of fun,” Jayvon said, speaking with BET.com. “I rode around in a police car and it drove really fast. It was really fun.”

Not only was it fun for Jayvon, the experience provided a boost for his mother, who said that seeing her son so happy was a balm for her, too.

“It lifts the whole family’s spirits,” said Amanda Clinkscales, Jayvon’s mother, in an interview with BET.com. “We have been through so much financially, physically and mentally. It’s been rough for us.”

Clinkscales tells the story of how her son lay on the floor complaining of a stomach ache and how she took him to the hospital expecting to hear that he suffered nothing more serious than an intestinal virus.

“They told me that he had leukemia and I just couldn’t believe it,” she said. “I instantly went to get a second opinion and we wound up at Children’s Hospital. They ran tests and there were six or seven doctors who came to us and told us they he had acute lymphoblastic leukemia. They told me what he had and I fell down and cried. Here I was a single mom with a son with a health problem I couldn’t even imagine.”

Since then, Jayvon has been undergoing chemotherapy and, because his immune system has been compromised, he has remained at home during the school year. He will resume going to classes with his schoolmates in the next academic year, perhaps.

In the meantime, his mother said, she has sought to comfort him and to bolster his spirits.

“Sometimes, he doesn’t feel well and he tells me: ‘Mom, I just want to be like a regular boy again.’ And I tell him that he is a regular boy,” she said. “Sometimes, he says to me: ‘Mom, what if I die?’ And I try to assure him. I tell him he will be fine and that everything will be all right. But it’s very, very tough.”

So, the experience last week with Detroit officials, including Kevyn Orr, the city’s emergency financial manager, and other officials serves as a sign that others in her community and her city do care.

“That helps us a lot. I thank God for them.”

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Follow Jonathan Hicks on Twitter: @HicksJonathan

(Photo: courtesy the Detroit News)

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