Ronald McDonald House
A Community Comes Together for Jacquline
By Gene Davis
It was November 2006 when then five–year–old Jacquline Wenzler–Steves first complained of a pain in her hip after a playmate accidentally fell on her. Although Jacquline’s hip began swelling and she developed a fever, doctors weren’t able to pinpoint the problem until the following April 16th – the day after Jacquline’s sixth birthday – when she was diagnosed with Ewing’s Sarcoma, a rare form of bone cancer. It was in her pelvis area and tests soon confirmed that it had spread to her lungs. Since then, Dad Vince, a Maui firefighter, mom Annette, and nine–year–old sister Dominique have been dealing with an entirely new reality.
Little Jacquline has completed her treatments, which included more than a dozen rounds of chemotherapy and seven surgeries, including a September operation in Seattle to replace one half of her pelvis and an 18–hour procedure in August to harvest stem cells from her bloodstream. She is “doing well,” according to Vince. “The test results were good and various tubes have been removed. Now all emphasis is on after–care to give her the best possible chance not to relapse.”
The Wenzler–Steves family has stayed at the Ronald House several times, as they have returned to Oahu again and again for Jacquline’s numerous tests and therapies. Their road has been a bumpy one but we have watched them face each new trial with renewed resolve and hopeful optimism. If it were possible for love and devotion alone to cure cancer, their overwhelming devotion to Jacquline would have already rid her of those intruding tumors.
In practical terms, what Vince and Annette have had to do in support of Jacquline has been nothing short of heroic. “We have been able to manage because of the incredible support we have received from so many people,” Vince says. “We can’t even begin to express our gratitude to our relatives, friends, co–workers at the Maui Fire Department, doctors and nurses, the staff at Ronald McDonald House, and especially the other parents and kids we have met along the way. Everyone cares so much, it is extremely humbling.”
Vince somehow has managed to handle his duties with the Maui Fire Department, while also taking turns with Annette to accompany Jacquline to Oahu for her treatments. In fact, Vince was selected as 2008 “Maui Firefighter of the Year.” Always humble, Vince downplays his recognition. “I don’t think I deserve such an award, as I am fortunate to have such a great job and truly believe that what I do on this earth will somehow make a difference to someone, somewhere,” he says.
In an incredible gesture of caring, the Maui Fire Department distributed a letter detailing the Wenzler–Steves’ situation and their experiences at the Ronald McDonald House to every Maui firefighter.