5-year-old celebrates a late birthday, cancer-free
Girl suffered from rare form of the disease, parents appreciative of local doctor’s care
After a successful operation and six months of chemotherapy, 5-year-old Joelle Jones was all smiles as she ran around Chuck E. Cheese’s with her friends and siblings for a belated birthday party on Saturday, courtesy of her local pediatric provider that supported her along the way.
Joelle’s life was forever changed in April when she was diagnosed with a rare eye cancer, retinoblastoma, undergoing optic surgery soon after to stop the disease from spreading, followed by sever- al cycles of chemotherapy.
Her parents, Charles and
Sithd’dare, said it was Dr. Adeteju Ogunrinde at Children’s Healthcare Center who first warned them of the potential danger, advising them to seek a specialist, and then went the extra mile to provide a personal lev- el of care, including the party to celebrate the end of her long journey.
“We were devastat- ed. This was a shock to us,” said Charles as he reflected on when they first learned of her condition. “We went back and forth to Philadelphia for a series of months to make sure she got the best care [at Chil- dren’s Hospital of Phil- adelphia]. We did the operation at Wills Eye Institute, and then we followed up there for the chemotherapy for six months.”
“Of course, her pedia- trician needed to know everything that’s going on with her,” Sithd’dare added, “and we needed some care along the way, locally, that would continue to help us monitor her. Somewhere where she could go and get her labs every week, because during chemotherapy they have to check the labs once a week and make sure her numbers are right.”
The parents, who live in Accokeek, also com- mended staff members for being so child-friendly and convenient with their schedule.
“They were very car- ing about Joelle, and we appreciated that,” Charles said of Ogunrinde’s Waldorf practice. “They went the extra mile to make sure she was taken care of. That was awesome.”
Joelle, they said, has been an inspiration to them these past months, enduring the countless tests and procedures with a positive attitude and an infectious smile.
“This event today, they totally took care of it,” Charles said. “They invited us, we brought along some family, and just the empathetic care and concern and love that she’s shown us. She didn’t have to do this. This is really a special thing for her to do this for us.”
Ogunrinde, or “Dr. O,” felt compelled to throw the party knowing that the ever jubilant Joelle, who customarily hugs her after each appoint- ment, had been in between chemotherapy cycles when she turned five in July.
“It’s a long journey for the parents,” she said. “It seems like yesterday when the whole thing started. When you get a bad diagnosis, as any parent, you feel overwhelmed and it feels like the end of the world. But we were there with them.”
Joelle’s doctors are confident after six months of chemotherapy that the procedure has eliminated all cancerous cells, her parents said, but they are continuing to travel to Philadelphia to follow up every three to four months.
“When the end came, and I got the letter, the first thing I wanted to do is give her a hug,” Ogunrinde said. “She’s so lovely. She is cute and she is always happy. She’s still a little weak now, but you can see the way she smiles that everything comes out.”
Dr. Adeteju Ogunrinde with her longtime patient Joelle Jones, 5, who recently completed her last round of chemotherapy. The pediatrician and her staff at Children’s Heathcare Center in Waldorf threw her a belated birthday party at Chuck E. Cheese’s to celebrate.
Joelle and her mother, Sithd’dare, grab for tickets inside the Chuck E. Cheese ticket blaster.
Sithd’dare Jones and her daughter, Joelle, take selfies at the photo booth at Chuck E. Cheese’s.
Dr. Adeteju Ogunrinde, middle, and two of her physician assistants, Michelle Jackson, left, and Jordan Bebber, right, watch as Joelle plays an arcade game.
Joelle Jones, 5, of Accokeek celebrates a belated birthday party at Chuck E. Cheese’s on Saturday after completing her last round of chemotherapy.