On April 18, 2013 Leslie's son Brian at the age of 15, was shockingly diagnosed with Stage III Burkitt Lymphoma. According to the NIH "Burkitt lymphoma is the most aggressive type of lymphoma." Brian wasn’t sick, he simply had a lump under his arm. Five days later one appeared in his abdomen. Biopsy surgery two weeks later determined it was lymphoma. Hospitalization started the next day and after a PET scan showed four tumors total. Five days later they moved to receive treatment at Dana Farber Cancer Institute/The Jimmy Fund and Boston Children’s Hospital in Boston. Hours away from home and living in the hospital for seven days at a time while Brian received intensive chemotherapy, Leslie wrote an email home every day to keep family and friends informed about their days fighting cancer. It was too hard to talk on the phone without crying through every conversation and so many people were praying and thinking of them, and waiting to know how treatment was going, how Brian was feeling and what it was like for Leslie, the Mom. It helped Leslie to process being a "Cancer Mom" and what that meant for her, by writing their daily story and sending it home. It helped to let the fear out, to keep track of the many lessons they learned about life. Many people were touched by their story, saying it helped them to find gratitude in their own lives and not take anything for granted. Many of her followers encouraged Leslie to put her emails into a book in hopes that it might help other parents whose children are diagnosed with cancer to know they aren't alone, and hear the voice of a Mom that went through it too. "Having your child diagnosed with cancer, their own body trying to kill them is the worst of the worst to me. You are supposed to protect them, keep them safe and healthy and watch their life unfold. Then BOOM! Life comes to a screeching, glass shattering halt while you pray that your baby just lives. The fear is intensely overwhelming and PTSD is a real thing for survivors and caregivers," says Leslie.
Leslie Jermainne lives in New England with her husband, son, and two little dogs. She also has two step-daughters and a step-grandson. She and her husband own their own real estate company and work together as a team in all aspects of life. Currently their son Brian is enjoying 2 years of remission. Cancer never seems far away however, as Leslie's lost both of her parents during the summer of 2015 to cancer, Brian's mother to cancer, Leslie's maternal grandmother at the age of 57 and their dear friend Anna at the age of 35. Even after all that, somehow having her only child diagnosed with cancer feels like the absolute worst. But the lessons she chose to take from this experience have made for a simpler, more open life. She continues to give back to The Jimmy Fund, Make-A-Wish and St. Baldrick's. She shaved her head to raise money with the 46 Mommas Shave For The Brave 2014 in Boston so that someday, 46 Momma’s in North America, every week day will NOT hear the worst words of her life "your child has cancer."