SCOTLANDVILLE, LA (WAFB) - A woman belted Oh Happy Day, a gospel song, while a bed-ridden teenager clapped and mouthed the words of his favorite song.
Jerome Singleton, 17, was happy. He had family and friends from his school, Scotlandville Magnet High, and even the school's principal at his home. They gathered Wednesday, May 17 to perform a graduation ceremony for Singleton. While many children wish for amusement parks or special toys as a final wish, Jerome quietly told his parents his dying wish would be to graduate from his school.
After the rousing happy song, which featured the rest of the people in the room acting as backup singers for the wonderful lead singer, Singleton mouthed the words along with them, even though he couldn't speak or sing, after his parents slipped on his graduation gown and cap, Singleton smiled triumphantly.
He was diagnosed back in 2015 with a cancer called Rhabdomyosarcoma, or RMS. Rhabdomyosarcoma usually strikes fetuses and babies, but can attack people much older too. It's a cancer made up of cells that normally develop into skeletal muscles.
The next two years were back and forth between Baton Rouge and Memphis to St. Jude's Research Hospital for treatment. In that time, Singleton has received 47 chemo treatments. His family received the devastating news that the treatments did not work and the aggressive cancer has now spread throughout his body. Singleton was moved home for hospice care on May 9. The nurse and medical help who visit him every day are mainly trying to make sure he's comfortable as his body breaks down and life comes to an end.
In the home, Singleton finds joy playing video games with any one of his nine siblings, aged 18 to 4. The family, with two parents, Jerome Cockran and Keisha Singleton, is rather large as a result of two families coming together. Singleton also loves, loves, loves the Chicago Bulls basketball team.
Lakisha Harris, a type of designated as a spokesman for the family, says, "His family is now rushed to try to find light in this dark situation so that his last days can somehow be good days. And shortly thereafter, they will be thrust into another battle of dealing with the hole left in their hearts from grief as well as the medical and burial financial burdens."
Harris says the family would be so grateful for help to pay for the upcoming funeral and medical costs they've accrued beyond the free help they always get at St. Jude. There is a GoFundMe account set up by the family.