By A.T. Gilbert
Jamie Parmer is a people person. He is also a 4-year-old boy who was diagnosed in August 2013 with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia – otherwise known as ALL. And because of Clovis High and Clovis West’s Make-A-Wish nomination of Jamie and generous fundraising efforts, he is also going to take the trip of a lifetime to Disneyworld next year.
The Parmer family has deep roots in the Clovis community: both parents attended Clovis Unified schools, Rebecca Parmer is a kindergarten teacher at Maple Creek Elementary School, and three of Jamie’s siblings attend a school in the district. Safe to say, the Parmer family loves Clovis.
What the Parmer family didn’t know, however, is how much Clovis loves them back. On Nov. 7, during halftime of the Clovis High versus Clovis West football game celebrating the 35th anniversary of “All Clovis Week,” the Parmers were honored to help present a $5,000 check to the Make-A-Wish Foundation. These funds will help send the family to Walt Disney World, which Rebecca anticipates will take place in June of next year.
Lori Hurley, a biology teacher at Clovis West and personal friend of the Parmers, was instrumental in helping Jamie’s dream come true.
“For the past seven or eight years, we have raised funds to help sponsor the Make-A-Wish Foundation. So, when we found out that we could have Jamie’s father nominate Jamie, we submitted his name and dedicated the funds to Jamie’s wish,” said Hurley. “I wanted to surprise Becky [Rebecca] when we found out Jamie was chosen, so we kept quiet until the Foundation called her in August to let her know.”
“My jaw hit the floor. I couldn’t believe that Jamie had been selected,” said Rebecca Parmer. “I was just in awe, and I am still just so grateful for the outpouring of support that we have received.”
Hurley continues, “In all of the years I have been working and volunteering my time, I can’t think of a family that derserves this more. They never complain about their struggles, even when that means they are staying in the family trailer in the parking lot at Children’s Hospital in Madera.”
The Parmer family, in addition to working through Jamie’s illness, has another medically fragile son who frequents the pediatric intensive care unit at Children’s Hospital. So, between the visits for Jamie and the visits for their son Peyton, they spend quite a lot of time away from their home.
“So that’s when we decided: Wherever we all are, that’s home,” said Rebecca. “The older siblings – even Jamie – understand that when Peyton needs us, we have to be there for him, just like we will be there for them when they need us.”
It is easy to see how the Parmer family is such an inspiration to everyone around them. But in total sincerity, Rebecca claims that none of what they do would be possible if it wasn’t for the level of support they have received from family, friends and their employers. Upon Jamie’s diagnosis, Rebecca was able to take time away from her career in order to care for her son throughout the grueling process of chemotherapy.
Rebecca is now back to work as a teacher, and Jamie is currently in daycare. According to Mrs. Parmer, the district has been so flexible with her and her family’s needs. With frequent doctor visits and stays in the hospital, she recognizes the benefit of working for a school district that allows her to put her family first.
Now in the maintenance phase of his three-and-a-half year treatment, Jamie continues to take daily oral chemotherapy, along with monthly IV chemotherapy treatments and intrathecal (lumbar puncture) chemotherapy every three months.
“There’s a common misconception surrounding the idea of treatment of cancer and then being in remission,” said Rebecca. “When Jamie was diagnosed, the very next day the doctors had a plan and – quite literally – a manual that told us what was going to happen every day in his treatment. Now, even though we are techically in the maintenance phase, Jamie’s real last day of treatment is Oct. 30, 2016.”
When asked about her concerns for the trip to Walt Disney World, Rebecca said that the week the trip is tentatively scheduled for is also a week where Jamie is due to receive steroids, which can leave him exhausted and with no energy.
“I am crossing my fingers that his oncologist will work with us so that Jamie can enjoy the trip as much as possible,” she said. “He is such a fighter and so positive, I hope this trip will be the experience of a lifetime for him, and for all of us. But mostly, I just want to thank everyone who has been there for us. Complete strangers have given us a gift that can never be repaid. We are just so truly and deeply grateful.”