‘I went home after my son’s transplant, only to receive an angry letter about the ‘eyesore’ exterior of my home.’: Woman’s son diagnosed with Stage 4 cancer, community unites to clean her home in wake of insensitive complaint

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“What is my story? It’s a question I’ve thought about over and over gain. A question that’s made me realize I do, in fact, have a story and a voice. So, I’m going to answer that first.

I’m a biracial female. A wife and mother to four beautiful and amazing children. I grew up in the south during the 80s. I was always asked questions like, ‘What are you? What are you mixed with?’ People were always trying to figure me out. My mother is white and I grew up with her side of the family. From kids to adults, people would always make comments about my race. Some more passive, others with the intent of letting me know I didn’t belong because there was some black in me.

Courtesy of Randa Ragland

I don’t know my dad or his side of the family, but I will say, for the most part, black people have accepted me. I was just always called the ‘red girl’ or ‘yellow girl’ because of my difference in pigmentation. Or my favorite, ‘the one that looks like a white girl’.

I started at a school of mostly white children. Who am I kidding? There was only me, a Lebanese boy, and two black teachers. But what made me notice this? One day my first grade teacher came up to me and asked, ‘What’s wrong?’ She suspected that I’d been feeling down. ‘I feel like the kids are treating me differently,’ I remember saying. My little, innocent child mind understand why.

Oh, she let me know swiftly.

‘Because you’re a mulatto.’

It was a word I’d never heard before, but I could by the tone in her voice that she thought of me differently. Instantly, my world felt like a lie! My mother had continuously lied to me about who I was. Everything, everyone around me suddenly looked so different. I started noticing that no one else looked like me. That was just the start of my story.

I would later learn that my mother had 9 miscarriages, the last one being twins just before her tubes were tied. Her doctor told her she could still have a child, but not with her husband. According to them, he was the ’cause’ of the miscarriages. Yep! So, she cheated because she wanted me so badly. And she got her wish when she delivered me on her birthday, November 10th.

Given that my mom was older when she had me, she didn’t feel the need to learn much about my dad. In her mind, she just wanted to raise me and that was it. I can confidently say that has always taken a toll on me. And now, even more with my son Jaxen being sick, I really wish we knew that side.

You see, my 3-year-old son has neuroblastoma stage 4 cancer. He was diagnosed just a week before his 3rd birthday. Jaxen is also autistic and non-verbal. Jaxen was my last pregnancy and it was rough, I must say. I knew Jaxen was going to be born special before he even arrived earth-side because it seemed like evil was doing all it could to keep him from coming.

First, while I was pregnant, the doctor called me after a Down syndrome screening came back abnormal. My husband and I went ahead and got the amniocentesis done after three weeks of waiting. It usually doesn’t take that long, but ours did. It was the longest three weeks of my life.

Finally, I got a call from my doctor’s nurse. ‘Yes, Jesus!’ I said the second I heard her voice. I knew there wasn’t anything wrong instantly,  and I was right. Then, when Jaxen was born, I began bleeding out after the doctor accidentally nicked my uterus. I was hemorrhaging and remember waking up and my body did not feel like my own. I felt like death. And that’s because my body had lost so much blood.

I had no one with me at the hospital to help me with Jaxen. My husband had stayed home with our other children, so I was pretty much an orphan. Eventually, the doctors gave me three pints of blood and I was finally able to take my baby home. Jaxen was such a happy, alert, smiley baby. He seemed to be developing normally. Then, one day I noticed traits like I did in Josiah, my oldest son who is autistic. And the doctor soon confirmed I was right. Jaxen was indeed showing signs of autism.

Courtesy of Randa Ragland
Courtesy of Randa Ragland

I remember feeling like a failure. I now had two sons with autism. I just didn’t understand. But when Jaxen and I started our journey, I had no idea there was so much more to come. Up until Jaxen was 2 years old, he was fine to us, at least from what we could see. And then in March of 2018, the signs started showing. Something was wrong. I went to the doctor so many times with him. I started thinking I was going crazy! By the seventh doctors appointment, even my husband and oldest daughter thought I was just spoiling him. But I could feel in my spirit something was wrong with my baby boy.

Courtesy of Randa Ragland

After going to his pediatrician for what seemed like the 100th time, this time they performed a CBC and X-rays because Jaxen kept holding his right side and screaming. They said he was just constipated. Yeah, you heard that right. I remember saying, ‘Constipation shouldn’t be making him scream like he is…’ Her response? ‘Well, if it was real pain you holding and consoling him wouldn’t be making him feel so much better like it is now.’ Boy, was she wrong.

I remember feeling hopeless. Why was I the only one seeing this?! I just wanted Jaxen to tell mommy what was wrong! After about 2 weeks from that visit, Jaxen got to a point where he couldn’t walk at all anymore. Which for any almost 3-year-old child was just unheard of. He just kept screaming and limping.

Courtesy of Randa Ragland

Next, I took him to an after hours clinic for children. I didn’t have a running car at the time so my friend Jasmin took us instead. She literally helped save my son’s life that night. I hadn’t wanted to go back to my pediatrician at the time because I felt like they thought I was some sort of crazy helicopter mom. We thought we were going to be sitting there forever, but we were called back not ever 5 minutes after signing in! I’ll always remember the doctor’s face at the clinic. Now, I was really starting to worry.

She immediately wanted a X-ray. And just from the X-ray alone, she said the one thing my mommy gut was telling me.

After more blood work and tests it was now 2 o’clock in the morning. They keep saying words like sepsis, but now when I look back on these moments I realize that all of them were wearing badges with oncology on it. We get admitted Jaxen and I slept next to him in a crib. I awoke to four doctors around me. ‘Whoa. What’s going on?’ I asked. After my poor baby looked like a pin cushion from all the blood work, a CT scan, and a bone marrow biopsy, the doctors told me Jaxen had cancer.

Courtesy of Randa Ragland
Courtesy of Randa Ragland

I still cry just thinking about what their faces looked like telling me. I remember feeling defeated and angry at the same time. My own mother had already been gone 9 years from cancer. My brother had just passed away a few months prior, and now my baby was next. I remember thinking, ‘Please God. Not my baby. Please. It’ll break me.’ But I also remember thinking, ‘You’ve got to be strong, Randa. Suck it up!’ Next, Doctor Aye leaned in and said, ‘It’s stage 4 neuroblastoma.’ The words ‘stage 4’ took my breathe away. In tears, I asked her, ‘Is my baby going to die? My baby can’t die!’ This all happened a week before his 3rd birthday. Everything was a fog. They went in full force after that. My poor little man.

The children that endure these treatments are so strong, I swear they’re all are WARRIORS! Jaxen has had 7 surgeries since November. We have been in the hospital on siblings’ birthdays, on every holiday, even Christmas. He has been hospitalized more then 20 times. He literally almost died for things like pneumonia, bronchitis, and the flu because his immune system is broken down. At one point, my baby was paralyzed and sedated for 7 whole days; that was one of the hardest moments for me. There were tubes down his throat and so many machines I’d never seen before in my life, much less for a child. That almost broke me. I couldn’t sleep. I couldn’t eat. I couldn’t look at my husband because I all I saw was Jaxen’s face in him and it hurt to badly. My bishop came and prayed over Jaxen. With each blessing, he became more and more responsive and woke up. It was a miracle!

Courtesy of Randa Ragland

After that, we waited 2 weeks and went back in with more chemotherapy. I know this hospital way too well by now. It’s literally because our second home. On June 12th of this year, we went in for a transplant that I have to say was by far the hardest treatment to go through. My son’s skin literally burned up from the chemo. I had never seen anything like it before. Between that and the Mucositis, he was so pitiful. I could see in his eyes that he was thinking, ‘Mommy, I’m tired. I’m tired of all of this.’ And my eyes said, ‘Mommy is too, but we can do it Jax!’

Courtesy of Randa Ragland
Courtesy of Randa Ragland

After 45 days, we were done with transplant. We finally were able to go home two weeks later, on August 1st, only to receive THE NOTE.

By the time I got the note in the mail by my neighbor, I was already completely broken and humbled. Very humbled. My husband had just lost his job. On top of everything we had next up to endure with Jaxen, I felt alone and isolated. This is what it read:

Neighbor,

Please take bring and straighten up the exterior of your house. Your eyesore is affecting the resale value of OUR homes. Who wants to buy a house near you and look at that daily? It does not take that much effort, all you have to do is give a s***.

Do better!!!

Courtesy of Randa Ragland

At first, I wasn’t going to say anything about the note. I didn’t have the energy. I really didn’t. Then, I changed my mind. At 1 o’clock in the morning, I posted the note to a group on Facebook and said how I felt. At about 6:30 a.m., 5 hours so later, my phone was going crazy from notifications. I was like, ‘Huh, what’s going on?!’ People where actually reading what posted. I couldn’t believe it. No trolls were commenting Just love and kindness, and it was beautiful.

That same day, Bernard’s lawn service came to my house and cut my front yard. I was in shock. His wife had read my post and reached out. I couldn’t thank them enough. It was now August 3rd, 2019, the day my brother had died two years prior. I should’ve been feeling sad and defeated, but I had no place for sadness that day. All these wonderful people came to my house to do my backyard. It was amazing. I truly have never seen anything like it. My heart was filling up again.

Courtesy of Randa Ragland

I remember my 10-year-old son looking at me in awe and saying, ‘God really is real.’ And I said, ‘Yes, baby. Because we prayed for Jaxen and all these people came to help us.’ Talk about ugly crying! It was beautiful that even he could see the goodness going on around him. We knew God didn’t bring us this far for nothing. We are still fighting and will continue to fight.

If I had seen that note just a year ago, I would have been angry. But my family is going through the roughest of times right now. My son is literally fighting for his life, and I truly don’t have the energy for that kind of negativity. Maybe the owner of this not will see this. And maybe not. Either way, I hope that it will inspire someone to be kind to their neighbor. You never know what’s going on in someone’s life.”

This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Randa Ragland of Pinson, Alabama. You can follow her journey on Facebook and donate here. Submit your own story here and be sure to subscribe to our free email newsletter for our best stories. 

Read more about amazing acts of kindness:

‘This soldier, who died in Afghanistan, was being flown home on our flight. I have never cried so much for someone I didn’t know.’ Man recalls ’emotional’ flight, airline captain’s act of kindness

‘Are you OK?!’ Teen uncontrollably sobs after classmate’s surprise act of kindness

‘As we entered our street, the driver said, ‘Which house is it?’ Then he stopped mid-sentence. ‘Oh… never mind, you’ve got quite a crowd waiting.’’

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