Jakob DeSmet’s Make-A-Wish Story

Make A Wish South Dakota creates life-changing wishes for children with critical illnesses.

Just over a year ago, Jakob DeSmet went in to the doctor with concern for a bump behind his ear, that initial visit would result in 3 surgeries and a diagnosis of stage 3 salivatory gland cancer.

Jakob says, “At first I didn’t know what to except, but I didn’t think it was real -like my mom sat me down and she told me and explained it to me … I don’t cry a lot and I just started bawling ,just because I didn’t really know what was going to happen. I don’t know how serious it was, I don’t know if it’s going to be life or death, if I was going to need more surgeries and radiation and chemo.”

He and his mother spent 2 and a half months at Mayo Clinic where he received radiation treatments. The days were long.

Anna DeSmet, Jakob’s mother, says, “You wake up and you go to treatment and then you’re tired and you don’t feel good and you go home. You know there’s not much to look forward to, not much to do. When the treatments were done, they were usually in the mornings … we stayed at the Ronald McDonald house, and we’d go back there and I had to do vinegar soaks on his skin and we had to use prescription burn cream, but then we had to scrub it off before the next treatment. And I mean, it was not just the treatment and then you’re done-  I mean it’s all day of dealing with the side effects and everything.”

The DeSmet’s were introduced to Make- A-Wish South Dakota. Jakob, being a football player himself, chose to go on a trip to see Green Bay Packers play and meet some players, which he grew up watching with his family. In December of 2018 the family went to Lambeau Field, watched from the side lines as the players practiced; they met the players, had lunch with one of Jakob’s favs– Ha Ha Clinton Dix and took in an NFL game. It was his wish come true-moments that made magical memories for the family after such a long, traumatic experience.

Caleb DeSmet, Jakob’s brother says, “What Make-A-Wish did made us a lot closer, and it like, just really brought our family together after such a hard time.”

Anna says, “And now when we look back, it’s more the trip -versus the treatments, and I think that’s a big deal.”

“Replacing bad memories with good ones is something I’ll remember. It definitely changes your attitude towards life and towards everything, ” says Jakob. 

The DeSmet says they are forever grateful for what Make- A-Wish did for their family.

“It’s hard to see your kid so miserable and then you see them so happy, you know, even a 16-year-old kid to see those eyes big, you know, with amazement -it just changes their lives, ” says Anna. 

Jakob comments, “One donation can mean the world to someone else … I think that’s really important, for people to spread the love.”

Jakob is cancer-free and gets screened every three months.

Click here to donate miles or dollars, click here: Make-A-Wish. 

Categories: Local News