Jocelyn Lewis is your average teenager who likes hanging out with friends and participating in rodeos. She likes to play basketball, volleyball and run track.
And at 13, she’s looking forward to starting her eighth grade year in August.
In April, the Lewis family received the shock of their life when Jocelyn was diagnosed with stage IV melanoma.
Now, community members are doing what they do best - rallying around a family in need. A silent auction and taco dinner catered by Mi Familia Restaurant will be held from 5:30-8:30 p.m. Saturday at Stephenville City Park. Proceeds from the event will benefit the Lewis family to help offset rising medical expenses. The fund-raiser will take place right before Deryl Dodd and Larry Joe Taylor perform at the Birdsong Amphitheater during the Summer Nights Concert Series.
Joe Altebaumer, who has helped organize the fund-raiser, said the timing is perfect and is urging concert-goers to come to the park a little early and have dinner.
“Everyone has to eat,” Altebaumer said. “So you might as well come out and support a great cause — and then enjoy some great music.”
Jocelyn’s parents, Tim and Chris, said they are grateful for all the support they have received from the community.
“We feel so lucky to live here,” Chris said. “The support we have received has been overwhelming.”
Chris said the first inkling that something was wrong with Jocelyn came in the form of swollen lymphnodes.
“She never felt sick and she never had any other signs that something was wrong,” she said.
So Jocelyn was taken to her family doctor and told the swelling was probably caused by some type of infection. She was given an antibiotic and told that if the swelling didn’t go down in a few weeks to bring her back.
A few weeks later, when the lymphnodes were still swollen, Jocelyn was referred to another doctor who performed a biopsy. The next day, the family received news that would change their lives.
Jocelyn had cancer.
“We were just completely shocked,” Chris said. “The doctor told us how unusual it is for a child this age to have melanoma.”
Doctors do not know how long Jocelyn has had cancer, but they believe it probably started with a birthmark she had on her left heel. In June, Jocelyn had three, back-to-back surgeries to remove the birthmark, perform skin grafts and remove the cancerous lymphnodes.
This week, the family will learn what Jocelyn’s treatment will involve. She has been accepted into a cancer research program that has, until recently, only accepted adult patients. Jocelyn is the first patient from Cook Children’s Hospital in Fort Worth to enter the program.
Meanwhile, the popular student with a sweet disposition and tons of friends has not missed a beat - and she’s not letting the prospect of a potentially lengthy cancer treatment get her down.
“She’s doing great,” Chris said. “Her friends have rallied around her and are supporting her. She’s not scared of anything. She’s ready to go and start her treatment.”
Anyone who would like to donate an item to the silent auction can contact Lori Viss at 485-1314. Donations need to be made by Wednesday.