“I was crying. I didn’t know what to do,” the Garland mother of three said. “Everything was just a nightmare that day. I felt like everything just shattered. It wasn’t just feeling bad for her. I was thinking, ‘Oh gosh, I need to think of a way to give her her teenage life. I need to figure out a way to help her.’ ”
Her daughter, Jasmine Chamroeun, had to be hospitalized immediately, and Mrs. Lam recalled how difficult it was for the teen to hear the unexpected diagnosis of acute myeloid leukemia.
“She went blank for little bit. She looked at me and tears came out from her eyes. I knew that she understood,” Ms. Lam said.
Ms. Lam quit her job to be with her daughter every day at the hospital, and when Jasmine lost her hair to chemotherapy she shaved her head in a show of support.
“I wanted her to know that mommy would always be here for you no matter what, and I wanted her to embrace that baldness is beautiful,” she said. “I wanted her to know that losing hair is not the end of it, it is just the beginning.”
Jasmine, an eighth grader, is very quiet and soft-spoken and would only say that she thought her mother was crazy for shaving her head. Her mother remembers how she reacted.
“She said, ‘Mommy, why did you shave your head? You didn’t have to!’ And I said, ‘Of course I wanted to,’ ” Ms. Lam said.
Jasmine is in the yearbook club at school and plays viola in the school orchestra. She was celebrating Chinese New Year with her family when a fever and severe exhaustion prompted her mother to take her to Children’s Medical Center Plano. After blood tests, she was sent to Children’s Medical Center Dallas. She had to have a spinal tap and begin chemotherapy that day and stayed in the hospital for more than two months.
With no hair and lots of grace, Jasmine’s mother is at her side every day in the hospital.
“When you stay here this long you realize that you’re not the only one who is dealing with this. We met many families here. I met a family that has a 16-year-old daughter going through what Jasmine is going through. I met a family that has a 3-year-old, and he’s in a worse situation than Jasmine. You learn to adjust and realize we are blessed to wake up another day,” she said. “We can’t walk out that door and have a bad or ugly attitude. It’s just not going to make anything better for anyone. You can’t get angry at the world for what it has placed upon us. You just have to make the best out of it.”
Jasmine said very little about her experience other than to express gratitude for all her mother and the Children’s Health medical staff have done for her.
Her family hopes a bone marrow transplant will come through for her, and she wants to go to the zoo and Six Flags over Texas when gets out of the hospital.
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