AJ Spader was heartbroken the day his parents broke the terrible news to him: his little sister, Rebekah, was diagnosed with MDS (Myelodysplastic Syndromes), but that didn’t stop him from doing everything in his power to assure the remainder of her life would be a memorable one.
MDS is a condition in which a person’s bone marrow does not produce enough healthy blood cells. Although primarily a disease of the elderly since most patients are over 65-years-old, MDS can affect younger people too – just as it did to poor 10-year-old Rebekah.
Her parents were relentless in finding a treatment that would both cure their little girl as well as cause her a minimum level of discomfort, and so when the opportunity to go through with a bone marrow transplant arose, there was no second guessing the treatment and weighing down pros and cons.
Unfortunately, Rebekah’s transplant failed as her body rejected the bone marrow. Ever since then, her parents discussed whatever limited options they had remaining, but reached the conclusion that sadly, Rebekah would be better off enjoying what little time she had left on this Earth without any more unnecessary procedures.
AJ was always by Rebekah’s side – he held her hand before her surgery and looked after her whenever he could, comforting her during rough times. And so, when AJ received the announcement of his high school’s prom coming up, he knew immediately he wanted Rebekah to be a part of it.
Rebekah would most likely not make it to her own prom, so it only made sense he would take his little sister and “give her that experience,” said AJ’s mother, Stephanie to ABC News.
“She’s most likely not going to be able to experience high school. So, I just thought why not ask her to the formal… I want to spend as much time with her as possible while she’s still doing good,” AJ told KSFY.
AJ has a close relationship with his sister, who despite battling cancer, was very energetic and enthused about going to the formal.
“AJ and his friends embraced her and embraced the situation and didn’t blink twice that a little 10-year-old sister was going to hang out with them,” said Stephanie. “That for me was the most special thing.”