When Joellen and Matt Jenson of Huxley jumped into the world of foster care, they were the first to admit that they had no idea what was in store for them.
Joellen grew up in Taber, Iowa, and Matt claims Ocheyedan as his hometown. They met while attending Buena Vista College and now they call Huxley home.
“After we were married, we moved to Huxley,” tells Matt. “This was a great location for us. I work in Des Moines with MetLife and Joellen worked with the Homestead.”
The couple tell that they wanted to start a family, but soon realized that having their own biological children probably wasn’t going to happen. Foster care seemed like a good starting point for them.
“We ended up adopting the three children that we have as foster children,” tells Joellen. “Demetria, now a senior in high school, Tryston who is in third grade and Saxon, Tryston’s biological brother, who is in second grade, became our family.”
Joellen is now a stay-at-home mom.
“Not only did we jump into foster care and adoption, we also went feet first into the world of cystic fibrosis,” she explains. “Saxon was diagnosed with cystic fibrosis when he was two years old. So we knew he had CF. They gave us the machines, a bag full of medicines and written instructions, and sent us home.”
Cystic fibrosis is a is a genetic disorder that effects mostly the lungs, but also the pancreas, liver, kidneys and intestine. Long-term issues include difficulty breathing, coughing up mucus a result of frequent lung infections. There is no known cure.
“I thought to myself that this is a lot to deal with,” said Joellen. “But we pushed through and two weeks later we had a cystic fibrosis clinic appointment at Blank Children’s Hospital in Des Moines and found out that we were doing everything wrong.”
That was short-lived.
“I made a vow to do everything I could to make Saxon stay healthy,” Joellen explained. “His health since that time two years ago has been pretty good. He has shown weight gain and his lung function is much better.”
Like other children who struggle daily with cystic fibrosis, Saxon does airway treatments, nebulizer treatments, all to help him breathe easier. He has a regiment of medicines and lives with the possibility of being hospitalized for two-week tune-ups, which includes IV antibiotics. Last year he was hospitalized twice for tune-ups.
“We pretty much live day to day,” commented Joellen. “If we make plans, we know that they might have to be cancelled. We have a good support group that understands and help when needed.
Joellen’s parents moved to Huxley two years ago so that they can help out with all the children, and especially Saxon, when needed.
“Now that Saxon is older we can handle things a little better,” tells Joellen. “He can help with his vest treatments and breathing treatments. And if we need him, Tryston pretty much knows what to do as well.”
The couple knew that they could handle what was ahead for them. Joellen says that Matt is so flexible and he even admits that he is pretty laid back.
So now that they have things under control, the couple has jumped into fundraising to help raise money to fund the research for a cure for cystic fibrosis. They are trying something new this year that even Saxon is excited about.
On Oct. 21 “Saxon Silly Walkers” (Saxon’s CF Team) will be hosting a Spooky Kooky Supper. The four-course dinner, based on some pretty spooky named food, along with a silent auction, a DJ, photo booth and lots of fun, will be held at the Southgate Masonic Lodge in Des Moines. The evening event is set to begin at 6 and end at 9 p.m. Those interested can register on line atwww.eventbrite.com/E/spooky-kooky-supper-tickets-36695366830. Cost for the evening is $20 per person or $150 VIP table for eight people. All proceeds will be donated to the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation – Iowa Chapter.
“We are hoping for a really fun night, with lots of people attending,” said Joellen. “Halloween is Saxon’s favorite time and he is really excited about it.”
The CF Team also hosts an annual bowling event that is held at the Nevada Sports Bowl each year. The date for the event for 2018 has not been set yet, as the family is working with Make A Wish to go on an ocean cruise.
“I want to take pictures of sharks,” explains Saxon.
When asked how he would do that, he explained that maybe his Mom could do that for him.
Mom just smiled.