Faith has guided wish kid Jayton through every part of his life. He turned to his faith while growing up, playing on his high school basketball team, and especially when he was diagnosed with cancer.
“When he was only 16, Jayton had a mole removed from his neck that turned out to be melanoma,” said his mom, Betty. “To stop it from spreading through his body, Jayton had two extensive surgeries to remove all the melanoma.”
The following year Jayton continued immunotherapy and cancer treatments, but doctors did not give the family much hope of recovery.
“Jayton had 23 of his lymph nodes removed and he was in the hospital for an entire month, with appointments three times a week after that,” she continued. “The doctors told us Jayton probably wouldn’t live another year so we were just trying to make it day by day. Make-A-Wish Arizona became a light during the darkest time in our lives.”
Jayton, who was unsure what he would wish for at first, thought about his faith and decided to wish for an experience he could share with his family.
“I’m really into architecture and our church shared that a new temple was being built in Italy,” said Jayton. “I marveled at the construction and the models and pictures looked so cool, so I wished to see to the LDS Temple in Rome once it was built.”
Yet, what sounded like an easy travel wish was anything but simple. The church had just started construction and Jayton’s day-by-day prognosis could mean that his wish might not come true. Yet, he had faith.
“My wish provided me a focus, something to look forward to,” said Jayton. “I was able to really recover and rebuild my strength so that when it was time to leave, I was ready.”
Make-A-Wish Arizona created an experience for Jayton and his family that was more than just seeing the building.
“We met one of the temple builders and we were invited to the dedication, a special ceremony that only happens once after a temple is built,” said Jayton. “It was so powerful because we were in the building with the prophet and apostles and everyone was there together. Very few people get to see a dedication, so this was a once-in-a-lifetime experience that made it even more sacred.”
Betty was not only in awe of the temple and its meaning, but also having her son there with her to see it.
“As a mom, to be so close to losing Jayton and for him to here today, there are no words to describe that feeling,” said Betty.
“This was our first international trip with almost all of our family and it was so great to share this experience together. It was amazing to see the kindness of people who do things for wish families like us. We could have never done this for ourselves.”
During the rest of their trip, Jayton and his family visited Florence, Cinque Terre and the Vatican and enjoyed quality time eating their way through Italy.
“We took a class where we learned how to make pizza and gelato. Then we had to have pizza once a day and gelato sometimes three times a day!” said Betty.
Today, Jayton is doing well and he is cancer-free. He just finished his freshman year studying civil engineering, with plans to go to the East Coast this summer to work with his brother.
“I know my wish will always be something I can look back on and it is a memory our family will have forever,” said Jayton. “I had faith that it would be a perfect wish, but it was more than anything I ever could have imagined.”