Four-year-old Deja Jaleen Cleveland has the odds stacked against her, but her family and the community are trying to make this little girl’s possible last months happy ones.
Deja was diagnosed in September with a terminal condition known as brainstem glioma. She finished six weeks of radiation before Thanksgiving, hoping to slow and shrink Deja’s rare form of tumor, said her mom, Angela Cleveland of Queen Creek.
An MRI in January will show if the radiation worked. But the tumor is expected to continue growing. Deja can’t get any more radiation, and any other treatments are experimental.
Doctors have said she has less than a year to live, her mother said.
Among the hospital visits, the sleepiness and everything else Deja has endured, Angela Cleveland said she just wants to “show Deja the world.”
However, Angela Cleveland is nine months pregnant with her third child.
She is a single mom who also is dealing with a heart condition that won’t allow her to work until after the baby is born.
Angela’s parents moved into her Queen Creek-area home to help out.
Her longtime friend, April Abreu, has been telling everyone about Deja. She sent about 20 e-mails to companies that might be able to help Deja do the things she likes to do.
“Angela is a great mommy and she really wants the best for Deja,” said Abreu, a Scottsdale Community College student. “We are trying to pack a lifetime of smiles into a couple of months. It’s really hard to see her going through this.”
Peter Piper Pizza, Chuck E. Cheese’s and Build-A-Bear Workshop sent gift certificates, and East Valley Children’s Theatre allowed Deja and her family to attend a play and meet cast members. Schaller Anderson insurance, where Deja’s grandmother, Deana Coppock works, adopted the family for Christmas.
“It’s been amazing the people that we’ve met and the help we’ve received,” said Angela, 28. “I just really wanted to spend family time together.”
Deja and her family rode the Polar Express in Williams, thanks to the Grand Canyon Railroad.
The Make-A-Wish Foundation is sending the family to Disney World in February. And last week, Deja and her 3-year-old sister, Olivia, received a fun surprise at a Gilbert McDonald’s.
Every day before Deja received her radiation, she always asked for “chicken nuggets, french fries, pop and a toy,” essentially a Happy Meal, for when she woke up.
Catherine Sanchez, owner and operator of the McDonald’s at Power and Queen Creek roads, heard Deja’s story and asked the family to come meet Ronald McDonald.
Besides the signed toys from Ronald, the children were surprised with their own gold Lifetime Happy Meal cards good at Sanchez’s Gilbert restaurant and the McDonald’s she is opening near Johnson Ranch in Pinal County.
“Both of them were just so excited and ecstatic,” said Sanchez, a Gilbert resident. “It was a blessing for me to be able to do that. I guess angels have to go back sooner than others.”
For information on Deja, visit www.2deja.com.