Annabelle

Highlights

Project: Just Like You is proud to present Annabelle! This is her story.

Annabelle is 3 years old and is diagnosed with tracheoesophageal fistula, commonly refereed to as EA/TEF.

According to her amazing mom, Emily, “Annabelle was born with esophageal atresia and tracheoesophageal fistula, commonly refereed to as EA/TEF. It essentially means her esophagus did not connect to her stomach and instead there was an abnormal connection between her esophagus and trachea. She had surgery to repair at two days old and spent a month in the NICU recovering. As a result of her condition, her esophagus didn’t work normally for her until very recently. She couldn’t eat any solid food until age 2 and had episodes of food being stuck almost daily. She has had 4 procedures to stretch her esophagus to normal size. She’s also extremely susceptible to respiratory illness and had pneumonia nine times in the first two years of life.

Lucky for us, Annabelle is doing really well, but more importantly, she is as silly and sassy as any other three year old. I call her angel face because when you look at her you can see her kindness and goodness shining through. She loves being a big sister and takes being a dog owner very seriously. Every night she insists on tucking in our dog. She was loves learning about the animals on her favorite show The Octonauts and was Captain Barnacle for Halloween. Her most favorite thing to do is visit with her cousin’s horse who she also claims is her horse.”

Annabelle, may your kindness and goodness always shine through. May your love for learning never stop. May your life be a testimony of strength and courage to everyone you meet. You have endured so much in your short span of life and yet your joy and happiness far exceed your struggles. Thank you for being a source of strength for us all!

Annabelle is #JustLikeYou

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Nolan

Highlights

Project: Just Like You is proud to present Nolan! This is his story.

Nolan is three years old and diagnosed with Desmoid Fibromitosis this past May. It is a rare tumor (1 in 6,000,000) that has presented itself on his left side lower face.

Desmoid fibromitosis, also know as aggressive fibromatosis, is a rare condition marked by the presence of desmoid tumors. Desmoid tumors can arise in virtually any part of the body, and are tumors that arise from cells called fibroblasts, which are found throughout the body and provide structural support, protection to the vital organs, and play a critical role in wound healing. These tumors can occur in anyone at any age. Although not technically considered cancer because they do not metastasize, they mimic and are treated the same way that cancerous tumors are aggressive, fibromatosis is locally aggressive.
According to his super mom, Shannon, “After trying some experimental drugs that were unsuccessful in even slowing the growth of the tumor, Nolan recently started traditional chemotherapy in hopes to slow and then hopefully shrink the tumor until it is small enough to be surgically removed.

Nolan enjoys snuggle time with Mom while we watch Disney movies. He is a jumper. He loves jumping around, jumping on trampolines, and doing gymnastics. He has fun playing with his brother and friends. He likes being outside playing or helping Daddy out in the yard. He’s three, so he’s happy doing many things. He LOVES his pets, especially Yeti, our Maine Coon cat that will let him do just about anything to her, but he is so gentle with her. Like the rest of the family, he enjoys doing puzzles. Who doesn’t!?!?

Nolan is awesome because of his personality. He is so loving, running and jumping into our arms when we get home and telling us he loves us and misses us. And snuggling up on the couch with Mom, Dad, or his brother Liam. He is so jovial and has a great laugh and is so cute!! The ladies swoon over his beautiful blue eyes and long dark eyelashes. Nolan is up for anything, including going down the big slides at waterparks and riding some rides outside of the kiddie section of amusement parks. He loves to listen to Disney music, and our little game is to guess what movie it is from. He is pretty darn good at it!! Maybe, just maybe, one day he will be better at it than Mommy. Nolan is a joy to be around and is great at making people laugh and smile. He is definitely a class clown, pretending to fall down just to get the laugh. He is an incredible kid who is going through a difficult journey but is handling it like a champ! Nolan equals Awesome!!”
Nolan, your zest for life is unstoppable! We love that you are silly and find humor in all situations. We love that you are filled with energy and are so loving towards others. Always keep that strong spirit!

Nolan is #JustLikeYou

Sean

Highlights

Project: Just Like You is proud to present Sean! This is his story.

Sean is 24 years old and diagnosed with Down syndrome. There are three sets of the 21st chromosome. Which means there are developmental delays and health issues. According to his wonderful mom, Brenda, “We received a prenatal diagnosis at 4 months and did much of our research before he was even born. Books and doctors informed us of limitations, but our parent support network gave us positive information and hope. We relied upon these families to give us guidance during those critical early years.

When Sean was a toddler we visited a physician who changed our lives. His words were simple: “Decide what you want for your child and don’t take no for an answer”. This became our mantra and our guiding force. We formed a long term plan – we wanted Sean to socialize and be educated alongside his neighborhood peers, which was not common at the time. We wanted him to learn how to live independently in the real world. We faced an uphill battle but refused to compromise, and we were ultimately successful.

Our mantra took on increasing meaning. It became our family philosophy. Sean grew up feeling no limitations, and became someone who also “didn’t take no for an answer”. He had goals, but was willing to work hard to achieve them. He wanted to play sports in high school, so in addition to Special Olympics, he made the school wrestling team. He earned the highest award in Boy Scouts, his Eagle Scout award. He wanted to go to college, so he applied to George Mason University’s LIFE program and was accepted. He graduated in 2015. He wanted to be a weatherman, which was a challenging goal, but he persisted and ultimately worked at an internship for a local meteorologist. He wanted to live independently, and he now lives in a house with four friends. He loves hanging out “with the guys”, planning football parties, and living his life to the fullest. Next on his list: getting married to his beloved girlfriend Tasha. I have no doubt that he will make his dreams come true. We couldn’t be more proud!

Sean enjoys football, basketball, soccer, meteorology, drinking Corona, hosting football parties, and hanging out with friends, Spending time with his girlfriend Tasha, and listening to music. His favorite artist is Shakira. My child is awesome because he knows what he wants and doesn’t let anyone limit him.”

Sean, you are an incredible model of how life looks when one doesn’t accept “no” for an answer. You live out your dreams and goals to the fullest and your life is a shining light to all those around you. Now that you have graduated college, live independently with friends, we can’t wait to for the next chapter of a possible marriage to your girlfriend, Tasha! You are living life in an incredible way because you and your family always believed you could!

Sean is #JustLikeYou

Awareness for November

Updates

👉👉Please share!!👈👈 
You guys are awesome, so we are asking for your help! While we will continue to highlight those of all different abilities, we want to make sure we feature those with the following for November awareness month. 
If you have a child or teen with of the following:
Diabetes 

Epilepsy 

Cancer
or you know someone whose child or teen has one of the above, please submit your story and/or encourage them to submit theirs! You can use our featured children as examples. Email: projectjustlikeyou@gmail.com 

to share how they are living life to it’s fullest!! Not a storyteller? Email: projectjustlikeyou@gmail.com and we’ll send you a form to help write the bio! 
If we have missed something for November awareness, please let us know by writing in the comments. As always, thank you for your support!!

Joshua

Highlights

Project: Just Like You is proud to present Joshua! This is his story.

Joshua is 7 years old. He was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes (aka Juvenile Diabetes) when he was just 11 month old. Type 1 Diabetes is an auto immune disease and in basic terms this means that his body has fought against itself and has killed off the cells that make insulin. Type 1 Diabetes is not caused by anything we did or he did. It is not caused by what you eat or how active you are. Joshua will never out grow this and there is nothing currently to cure type 1. Everybody needs insulin to survive, so his is artificial since he can no longer produce it.
According to his incredibly strong advocate mom, Shannon, “Finding out that Joshua had type 1 Diabetes saved his life. At only 11 months old the normal signs and symptoms of Type 1 were excused by other things. He was losing weight, but had started walking so he was losing the baby fat. He leaked through diapers, so we thought he had out grown his current size. He was cranky, but cutting teeth. He had a fever but we were told he had a virus. On Feb 13, 2010- Joshua woke up with vomit and could not support himself. He hit his head the night before on a fall, so my husband rushed him to the ER.

Several hours later with a clear CT scan, they were about to release him. Thankfully another doctor came in and called for a blood test. This saved his life!
Joshua wears an insulin pump today, tests his blood sugar 10-12 times a day, and requires insulin. Before wearing a pump he received several shots a day. He also wears a monitor. These life saving devices have to be changed weekly. Everything in his daily life affects his blood sugar. It is a balancing act on a very tight rope.

 Joshua loves to swim, fish, play soccer, read, and just about anything else. He loves life. He loves music and he wants to learn to play the piano. He loves pizza, rainbow sherbet and a good salad. He can eat anything as long as he takes his medicine. He loves to play with his big brother and ride his bike and he loves cub scouts!

He is amazing because he doesn’t let Diabetes stop him. He is friendly, funny, loving, kind and brave. He tests his own blood sugar most of the time and has began doing pump changes. He also eats when he doesn’t want to. He has to be tested 2 times every night at midnight at 3 am, and never complains.
He as spoken to Senators and Delegates and the Governor of VA working on Diabetes Laws in VA. He participated in an artificial pancreases trial earlier this year for 3 days. He doesn’t know the word quit! We are so proud of him and all he has done in his short 7 years. We love him so much and are so thankful for the life he gets to lead, even when it is tough and confusing and hard. The outcome could have been so different, so we try very hard to remember this daily.”
Joshua, may you never learn the word “quit.” May you continually work for the betterment of all those who have Type 1 diabetes. We love that you stay strong in work and play. Joshua, you are a fighter and we admire that!

Joshua is #JustLikeYou