Feb. 21, 2014 at 4:09 PM ET
She may not make it to the basketball and volleyball games of her beloved high school teams, but a teenager with a rare type of terminal cancer is making sure they will play in style.
When approached by the Make-A-Wish Foundation recently, Jayci Glover, a 13-year-old who lives in Kanab, Utah, simply asked for a new scoreboard for the local high school, where the students and athletes have embraced the girl and kept her spirits up during a difficult year.
“She just decided that she didn’t really need anything, that she has everything she wants and wanted to give something back to all of her friends and the local community that’s done so much to support her,” her mother, Heather Glover, told TODAY Moms.
Her mother said the family wasn’t surprised at all that Jayci’s would think of somebody else when making her wish.
“We had suspected all along that she was going to choose something for her two little sisters or for her friends… She can never think of anything she wants – for Christmas or birthdays.”
Make-A-Wish is paying $7,500 towards the cost of the new scoreboard, which will cost $20,000, said Karen Kelly, who is Jayci’s great aunt and works at the school. The plans are to put Jayci’s name on the scoreboard so she is always there in spirit and cheering on the teams.
The girl, who was diagnosed with peripheral T-cell lymphoma, is at home on hospice care now after spending much of last year in and out of the hospital, Jayci’s mom said.
“There just aren’t any more things they can try. We’ve tried every proven lymphoma treatment that there is and her cancer continued to grow through every single one of them,” Glover said.
“We just reached a decision… to just come home and try to let her be in her home with her two little sisters for as long as we can. We don’t know how long that will be. We don’t think it will be too long.”
Jayci’s family first started to suspect something was wrong in January of 2013 when the girl who had always been very thin suddenly started to gain weight. Then, she noticed a lump on the left side of her neck, which launched the family on a long medical odyssey.
She and her mom essentially moved to Salt Lake City, a five-hour drive from their home in Kanab, for her treatment. Last year, Jayci endured six rounds of chemotherapy, had a bone marrow transplant and underwent radiation.
Her illness upset her endocrine system and triggered Cushing’s disease, which caused the teen to gain 160 pounds on her tiny frame, Kelly said. As her story spread on social media, most people have been wonderful, but some have been leaving cruel comments about her weight, she added. Her mom says Jayci is coping fine.
“She has just handled every bit of it with a smile and grace and dignity and I don’t think most 13-year-olds could do that,” Glover said. “She knows that it’s not her fault and just holds her head high and does her thing.”
She’s touched that all through her daughter’s treatment, the community has never forgotten the teenager, with kids buoying her spirits with calls, cards and letters. The high school volleyball team made her an honorary member and she was their score keeper during the times when she was home, Kelly said.
Jayci is getting a little more tired every day, but she’s happy to be home, her family said.
“She’s getting to do a lot of the things that she’s wanted to do for the last 15 months and hasn’t been able to. She’s had friends over, she’s gone out to lunch,” Kelly said. “She’s got that Jayci smile on her face and she really has the desire to live.”