Even at the young age of 12, Darby Jones, has already lived through struggles many of us cannot fathom. She was born two months premature, and the doctors informed her parents, Patrick and Valerie, that Darby had a heart defect, coupled with Down syndrome and Transient Leukemia (TL). They assured them the chances of Darby contracting Acute Myeloid Leukemia (AML), a successor of neonatal TL, were slim. Equipped with this assurance, Darby underwent heart surgery at the UAB Hospital.
Two years later, the Jones’s fear became reality: Darby had Acute Myeloid Leukemia. She began 18 months of chemotherapy, which required hospitalization one week out of each month. The treatments, although challenging for a toddler, appeared to be working. Darby grew stronger, began developmental therapy, and joined the school classroom. The Jones family had hopes the worst was behind them.
In June 2008, nine-year-old Darby attended Camp Smile–A–Mile. By the end of the week, she was severely ill. Valerie brought Darby back to the doctor for testing, and the results were heartbreaking. Darby was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia, a cancer unrelated to her previous disease.
Darby maintained a positive attitude throughout her additional 33 months of outpatient chemotherapy. If someone made a negative comment, she was quick to correct them. She made the most of each day, waking up each morning with a smile on her face and wonderment in her eyes. Her faith in God was as certain as anything tangible, and she gathered strength from knowing she was not alone.
Darby recently completed chemotherapy and is doing well. She continues to emanate her zest for life through dancing and performing. Her grandmother, Betty Nimmo, has been one of her biggest supporters throughout her recovery. To reflect Darby’s unabated happiness, her garden is dappled with daisies, black-eyed susans, and golden lantana flowers. Scabiosa and salvia represent Darby’s favorite color, blue, and a blanket of snow princess allysums top off an inviting garden pristine for butterflies and hummingbirds.
Valerie stated that the hardest struggle to overcome was finding the patience and endurance to make it through the longevity of Darby's disease. She shared, "Don't waste your time on petty grievances. Look at every new day as a good day."