SEATTLE ‘My child has taken over the valley,’ Ashley Guillen said as community shows support.
Jazzy Guillen is at Children’s Hospital in Seattle, fighting for her life while the Lower Yakima Valley unites to provide her strength and love from home.
The 15-year-old Prosser teen is well known for her smile, friendliness and generosity of spirit, as well as her love of soccer and her role on the Mustangs JV basketball team, is suffering a rare soft tissue cancer.
It all began Feb. 17.
Concern for what was stomach issues Jazzy was suffering brought the family to the hospital, and a mother’s fears became a reality as a CT scan revealed the teen had cancer.
Jazzy and her mother, Ashley Guillen, found themselves being rushed by ambulance to Children’s Hospital.
The duo, along with Ashley’s parents, retired Sunnyside Police Officer Joe Guillen and Denise Guillen, have been in Seattle since that fateful day.
“We have to stay a minimum of 13 weeks,” Ashley said. “It’s rough.”
The Sunnyside High School graduate said she has “amazing friends” in her hometown and other family members in Prosser.
Their support is widespread, and word of Jazzy’s cancer has touched the hearts of community members throughout the Lower Yakima Valley and worldwide, Ashley said, noting she’s received messages from people all over the world.
“There are people I don’t know sending messages and letting me know they are praying for Jazzy,” Ashley said.
“We’re not used to the attention.”
The outpour of support is overwhelming and is keeping their spirits high. She and Jazzy feel they are being “held up … and it’s uplifting.”
With an upbeat tone in her voice, Ashley said, “It’s unbelievable.
“Jazzy has a positive attitude — she’s being very brave and fierce.”
The family, especially Jazzy and Ashley, has kept in contact with friends and family back home via Facebook and Snapchat.
“Jazzy was able to Facetime to see what’s happening at school,” Ashley said last Thursday night.
There have been fundraisers in Prosser, Sunnyside and Grandview. At PHS, employees of the school had a fundraiser, kids were wearing #TEAMJAZZY bracelets and t-shirts, and a friend sold cookies.
There were also challenges, “We Bleed Crimson & Red,” between PHS and Grandview High School. Last week started with a dodgeball competition and mural painting at PHS. Wednesday, GHS hosted a blackout volleyball competition, and on Friday, the staff and bands from both schools competed against one another at PHS. The Friday event was followed by a dance.
In Sunnyside, Hair Pins gave haircuts on Sunday and Holy Pies sold cheese zombies and Razzy Jazzy drinks last Wednesday.
“There are so many fundraisers, we don’t even know about all of them,” Ashley said.
She did know about a taco feed at Cornerstone Church in Sunnyside last Friday. In her absence, her boyfriend Robert McNeill was in attendance. Other members of the family were also at the benefit that raised more than $4,000.
Jazzy’s great-grandmother, Dorothy Houser was among the people enjoying the taco feed and helping prepare food for the masses.
“Jazzy’s special,” Dorothy said. “She’s meant to do special things.”
Looking at the number of people who’d shown up, she said, “It’s so overwhelming, you can’t really put it into words.”
Dorothy said the support for her great-granddaughter makes her think of those less fortunate, and she feels blessed to have a granddaughter for whom so many are showing love and support.
“We couldn’t imagine taking this on without our valley friends,” Ashley said.
“It’s not an easy journey.”
Laughing, she said, “My child is taking over the valley.”
Ashley believes it is because “… she has a beautiful heart.”
As for Jazzy’s cancer, Ashley said there are multiple tumors in her abdomen, on her kidneys and liver, and “… a little in her chest.”
Combatting the invasion is requiring six rounds of chemotherapy to reduce the size of the tumors. The next step will be surgery to remove as many tumors as possible. Then, the teen will undergo radiation.
“It’s very aggressive,” Ashley said.
In the meantime, the family is staying positive and trying to keep others apprised via Jazzy’s “Team Jazzy” page on Facebook.