The journey that led to the creation of the Jorgen Yde (JY6) Foundation began in the Spring of 2010. Jorgen was finishing his freshman year at Sioux Falls Lincoln High School and competing on the baseball team. Jorgen began complaining about hip pain sometime in May. He sought council from athletic trainers, who attributed it to growing pains (as most kids his age would encounter as they experience faster than usual growth). He went through a couple rounds of therapy and even took a cortisone shot to try and work through the pain. It wouldn’t be until the pain came back in more intensely later that summer that we would learn the true cause.
Jorgen’s Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (A.L.L.) Diagnosis
It was June 22, 2010 in Worthington, MN, when Jorgen’s VFW team was competing in a double-header and he began experiencing a lot of pain in his back. After returning home that evening, he woke up early the next morning and asked that his parents take him to the hospital to get checked out. After numerous tests at both Avera McKennan and Sanford Children’s Hospital, it was determined the night of June 24th, that Jorgen had Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (A.L.L. as it’s commonly referred to).
Jorgen would spend his summer in and out of the Sanford Children’s Hospital in their Pediatric Oncology floor, receiving chemotherapy treatments under the observation of their medical staff. When his first 8 weeks of chemotherapy didn’t work as well as hoped, Jorgen was referred the the University of Minnesota Amplatz Children’s Hospital for a bone marrow transplant.
Jorgen’s Transplant and Treatment
Jorgen arrived in late October to the University of Minnesota to begin an extensive round of chemotherapy and radiation to prepare for his transplant. On November 8th, 2010, Jorgen received a stem cell transplant from two different donors (umbilical cord blood – donated for research). The transplant took, although a few days beyond the expected window, and Jorgen began the 100 day post transplant protocol. On February 16th, 2011, Jorgen had made it through and was pronounced cancer free – transplant successful. On March 18th, he returned for his 1 month check up. Following a number of routine tests, the doctors of the U of M delivered the news – Jorgen’s cancer was back.
It was determined that Jorgen would need to begin an experimental treatment immediately that would last a total of 35 days, with the hope that he would be able to receive a second transplant. This treatment was being widely used in Europe as the best answer for patients that relapse post-transplant. After completing the 35 day protocol, Jorgen received word that his cancer had come back much more aggressively than they had anticipated and the treatment wasn’t working.
Jorgen’s Final Wish
He returned home on April 30th, 2011 from the U of M. He spent his final days with family and friends, before returning to Sanford Children’s Hospital. On the morning of May 12, 2011, Jorgen passed away around his family and medical team, just as he had wished.
During this incredible journey, Jorgen never complained. He never asked why me or asked for sympathy or pity. The entire time, he remained strong and positive. Nothing was going to bring his spirits down. He was going to fight, and he was determined to win. Jorgen died a hero, a true inspiration. His life has touched more people in his short 16 years than many of us will in a lifetime.
Jorgen was a sophomore at Sioux Falls Lincoln when he passed away. He loved running and baseball – competing for LHS in cross-country (his teammates won the SD HS State Championship in 2012 for the first time in 27 years) and baseball (his VFW team won back-to-back state championships – his jersey hung in the dugout at every game). He was passionate about fishing and music as well. He enjoyed the simple things in life, never asking for much, and caring deeply for his family and friends. He had a very witty and dry sense of humor. Throughout his journey, Jorgen was the one consoling everyone, and lifting their spirits (when it should’ve been the other way around). He wanted to attend the Air Force Academy, study engineering, and someday, become a pilot.
A special thanks to Marlin Sejnoha and the Sejnoha Family for making Jorgen’s dream to become a pilot a reality. On April 29th, 2011, Jorgen and Captain Jody departed Joe Foss Field on a KingAir for a trip from Sioux Falls to Madison and back, flying over the house he grew up in near Renner, SD with his parents and sister. We are pleased that a month later, they were recognized as South Dakota’s Business Family of the Year for 2011.
Jorgen dreamed that one day there would be a cure for cancer, which is what inspired the founding of the Jorgen Yde (JY6) Foundation. We hope to make his dream a reality.