Tenth-grade Jamaica College student Rojea McCook, 17, has already fought a two-year battle with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, and in April of 2021, he learned that the cancer had returned even more aggressively and had spread from his neck to his stomach. His mother Nadine Morris, who had been optimistic and strong in her faith while Rojea underwent rigorous medical treatment, now feels that her family has lost hope just when they had begun to smile again.
Rojea’s physicians recommended immediate chemotherapy and a bone marrow transplant in order to save his life. The costs of these life-saving treatments totaled over $10 million, however, and Morris was overwhelmed with a sense of defeat. The cost of the treatment seemed like a death sentence for her son, “because there’s no way I can afford it.” Right at a time when the family thought things were getting back to normal, Rojea’s oncologist told Morris that no further treatment for her son is available locally; he had completed all the cycles of chemotherapy. She did hear from a hospital overseas that could provide the treatment for US$71,000, but that only covered the medical expenses and not the air fare, lodging, or other needs associated with getting to the treatment location.
For Rojea, who wants to study medicine, the goal is to survive the illness and to sit in a classroom with his friends again one day.
The tenth grader received a diagnosis of Stage Four Hodgkin’s Lymphoma in early 2019 and underwent treatment for two years that included multiple chemotherapy sessions, radiation, and surgery. In March of 2020, he was released from University Hospital of the West Indies and received treatment at home until July of that year. He came out of the treatment greatly improved, with all his subsequent tests indicating a full recovery. As he had not received any schooling in 2019-2020 because of his treatment, Rojea eagerly returned to his educational pursuits via virtual instruction according to COVID-19 protocols. He returned to school, virtually, in September of 2020. He adapted well to the new virtual way of learning and now helps his 12-year-old sister with her schoolwork. Morris joked that he “started charging me $500 to do it.”
Because of the pandemic, the positron emission tomography (PET) scan required to confirm that he was in remission was delayed for months. Once it was performed, his life was again derailed. Even though it seems things have worsened, Rojea continues in good spirits, joking about his mother: “I think she’s more afraid than I am.” Morris replied that she was not very worried with the first diagnosis as treatment for Hodgkin’s Lymphoma has a high success rate.
Morris started a GoFundMe account to help meet Rojea’s treatment needs. She said she is seeking assistance from Jamaicans to get it done. “We don’t have a lot of time in which to get him the treatment, that’s why I am really reaching out. Financially, the first treatment was very burdensome, I have to admit.” Rojea’s aunt Debbie McCook-Wilson is urging Jamaicans to make any donation they can as it will “literally save the life of someone who is determined and who wants to be an asset to his country.” She thanked those who have given the family support and prayers.
Anyone who wants to help can make a donation at on Go Fund Me