Skylar~Jade Maxson
April 27, 2003 - August 02, 2007

Mark5:23 And besought him greatly, saying, My little daughter lieth at the point of death: I pray thee,come and lay thy hands on her, that she may be healed; and she shall live..and Jesus said"because of your faith she is healed"..... She is forever...the Angel of Heaven's Rainbow Garden

Four-year-old Skylar-Jade Maxson loved her rainbow garden.

In fact, she spent most of her summer there, as the weather would allow, lying on a soft bed made up of layered blankets nestled in a crowd of impatiens, bright yellow and orange marigolds, purple and pink petunias, scarlet geraniums and the blushing blooms of the Mandevilla vine. Skylar-Jade would often fall asleep in her rainbow garden, a place where she was always at peace and free from the torment of the brain tumor that had robbed her of the ability to speak and function as a typical child. "I wanted a place I could bring her outside," said Connie Maxson, Skylar-Jade's grandmother and adoptive mother. "She loved flowers. She loved to listen to her wind chimes, listen to her birds, feel the wind. It was peaceful for her." Though Skylar-Jade won't return to the rainbow garden at her Monticello home, ConnieJo will continue to tend and grow the garden - and spread the word about the inoperable brain tumor, known as a diffuse pontine glioma, that invaded Skylar-Jade's brainstem at the age of three. Skylar-Jade passed away last Thursday night at age four, having been diagnosed with the tumor in May of last year. The particular type of tumor that victimized Skylar-Jade is rare and afflicts about five to 10 out of every 100 cancer diagnoses amongst children medical research states. It is considered inoperable because the tumor cells grow in and around healthy cells in the brainstem, interfering with critical functions controlled by that part of the brain. When Skylar was diagnosed last spring she was given six months to live, and her family told most children live on average just one year past diagnosis. Twenty percent survive two years. "No child has survived this tumor," said ConnieJo, resting on a swing on the outskirts of the rainbow garden Friday evening. "I'm going to continue to spread the word about this. If I can reach just one person who didn't know about this yesterday, then Skylar's life meant something. The world has to learn this attacks healthy children." Skylar-Jade was indeed a healthy little girl prior to last May, when ConnieJo says she simply and suddenly lost muscle strength, the ability to maintain her balance and the use of her throat muscles. Misdiagnosis is often the case with children who are ultimately diagnosed with diffuse pontine gliomas, said ConnieJo, because the symptoms can mask the greater problem. Though she knows little can be done once a child has been found with the tumor, there is much room for research and a better understanding of it ConnieJo attests. Life will be different for ConnieJo and Skylar-Jade's brother Tristan, 12, who ConnieJo also adopted, as they move away from a routine that involved constant visits with physicians, oxygen machines and attention paid to every breath Skylar-Jade took. Helping the family and their friends through their transition is Tammy Benner, a bereavement counselor with Serenity Hospice. Benner has spent time getting to know the Maxson's since hospice became part of their lives shortly after Christmas last year. She testified to the strength of the family and said that though they will be grieving for some time over the loss of Skylar-Jade, sometimes what those in mourning need is just the presence of a familiar face or voice. "There's no easy answers for a child (who dies). The most important thing is that a lot of people don't know what to say, but just being there is helpful. It's not always what you say." Amber Biggs, a cousin of the ConnieJo said the family has been helped immensely by the hospice staff and have gained a greater appreciation for life and one another through Skylar-Jade's battle for life. Connie says her faith in God kept her strong for Skylar-Jade when she needed her most. It will keep Connie strong as her life continues without Skylar-Jade in the rainbow garden. "I've watched God give her many miracles and we have lived on nothing but prayer for the last year. It held me up, holding a child, knowing she's leaving. And then, everything normalizes. My arms ache for her but she's showed us not to give up hope. You can be dying, but you can hope. God was there,... part of my every day and He changed us forever.".reporter Abby Leitz WRITTEN 2007

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