Rock Your Journey: The Sass Squad
Updated: Feb 17
(Patches of Light‘s “Rock Your Journey” campaign is live at the Ohio Statehouse. Amazing warriors from around the state have shared their inspiring stories. Please check them out!)
This is Scarlett’s story, or better yet, the Sass Squad’s story...
Shortly after her second birthday, sweet little Scarlett was diagnosed with a rare, one-of-a-kind, cancerous tumor growing in her colon. For months, Scarlett's family felt lost, angry, and helpless. They had been thrown into a world that they never wanted to be a part of- a world they didn’t even know existed. The pediatric cancer world.
The pediatric cancer world is filled with fear, pain, and little ones struggling for each day. Days now filled with scans, medicines, IVs and surgeries. So, when something as beautiful and special as an unbreakable friendship occurs in the darkness, you cherish it, forever.
This unbreakable friendship began years ago when two young warriors, Maelée (Malignant Sacrococcyxgeal Teratoma) & Jillian (Osteosarcoma), began treatment. Their bodies were fighting different cancers and there was quite a difference in age, but they were bonded by their battles and their overwhelmingly sassy personalities. Hospital stays lead to hallway chats, and playdates and cuddles sessions in each other’s hospital rooms. The girls and their families became family. They supported each other on the roller coaster that is cancer.
As time went on, Maelée reached remission on her second battle, but Jilly continued into her third. Scarlett, beginning her maintenance plan, began to see the girls. She had never met children like her- children that were aware of the pediatric cancer world- of the 11th & 12th floors of the hospital- of ouchies, pokes, and IV beeps.
Almost instantly, the three of them became a tribe. After all, Jilly had a way with little ones. She was a mother hen, who loved her littles fiercely, and wanted a different life for them. Within weeks, the girls earned the very suitable nickname “The Sass Squad.”
The Sass Squad was always stronger together. They were always happier together. Together they knew that they could conquer any mountain- and they did. They used their sass and strength to beat cancer again and again. To make it through every clinic visit, scan, scare, and surgery. They looked forward to their time together and their mothers leaned on each other, pulling each other up to continue forward.
Yet, no matter how much you love someone, you cannot keep them forever. Sadly, Jilly gained her wings and became Maelée and Scarlett’s guardian angel in December 2019. The perfect trifecta now has a piece in heaven.
Jilly’s smile, laugh, sass and spunky spirit is missed every single day. The girls ask about her daily, miss her at all their playdates, and reminisce about the beautiful things they did with their sass squad leader, their big sister.
The moms were not prepared for the drop, the drop that is losing a child and watching the other two children grieve so openly and immensely. Yet, they do not regret it. Their friendship was the one bright spot in years of pain. Their friendship is, to this day, a beautiful and inspiring thing. Their friendship is the one thing that proves that cancer did not and will not win. Because no matter how hard it tried to extinguish all the light, these three girls found a way to keep it going.
We do not know what the future holds for Maelée and Scarlett, though we are so pleased to say that they are currently thriving. They are five, but are going on 15, like Jilly. They are loved and cherished by their Aunt Julia, Jilly’s mom.
As much as we do not know what tomorrow will bring, we know that their big sis is watching over them and fighting for all pediatric cancer warriors, continuing to send sunshine and love their way. #SassSquadForever
We love you Jillybug!