J-Lue chases Rising Stars $1m to pay baby’s medical bills - Wants to make her 18-month-old child cancer-free
When Janice Lue, a 27-year-old Rising Stars contestant, and her partner, Romario McDonald, found out earlier this year that their child had developed the rare condition retinoblastoma (cancer of the eye), their world was shattered.
The couple, upon noticing ridges in the right eye of their then four-month-old son, Emilio McDonald, decided to take him to an ophthalmologist, who diagnosed him with cataracts. Not convinced, the couple sought a second opinion, and it was then that young Emilio was diagnosed with retinoblastoma.
"I was in disbelief, to be honest. I just couldn't fathom how a baby could end up with something so terrible," Lue, a native of St Thomas, who goes by the stage name 'J-Lue', told THE WEEKEND STAR.
The confused mother then began thinking of every possible way to ensure that she could provide the best care for her child. She quit her job as a hotel singer in order to be there for her son.
"I wouldn't have been able to be there for him in the way he really needs me," Lue said as she explained her decision to leave the job she had held down for six years.
At first reluctant to have her son go through chemotherapy, Lue tried various natural remedies.
However, they weren't as successful as she would have hoped. The next move was to try specifically prescribed treatment plans. This move, however, was extremely cost-intensive. She eventually gave in and decided to let him undergo chemotherapy.
"It had come to the point where financially, we were being drained. Everything just kept going downhill," she told THE WEEKEND STAR.
Emilio is now 18 months old. He is a frequent patient at the Bustamante Hospital for Children, where he is receiving chemotherapy. His mother has entered the Digicel Rising Stars competition in hopes that she will win the grand prize of $1 million in order to assist her in footing the bill to take care of her son.
"Although the treatment there is free, there are a number of costly tests he has to do to check the status of the disease in his body, such as CT scan, liver test, all that," she said.
Emilio will have to travel abroad to undergo follow-up tests and, possibly, treatment after his course of chemotherapy ends in Jamaica.
Meanwhile, J-Lue is seeking to impress on the Rising Stars stage. She said, however, that balancing her job on the stage and being a mother to Emilio is far from easy.
"It's really hard being away from him, even though it is just for the weekend. Even when I'm away, I still try to keep in contact with him as much as possible because sometimes my family doesn't know how to deal with him properly," J-Lue said.
J-Lue said that she tries her best on the stage, even though the judges were not impressed by her performance last Sunday. "God has been good to me, and even though it has been a rough patch, I really hope they will see my effort," she said.
While she wants the public to vote for her to be the next Rising Star, her greatest wish is to get help for her baby and other children suffering from cancer. She is seeking financial help to have him undergo the test abroad with the ultimate aim of assisting Jamaican children with similar illnesses and educating the Jamaican population.
"I want to know if he was born with it because maybe then I could trace my steps and be able to help in educating other Jamaican families of things we can do to avoid these illnesses. A lot of babies are being born with this deadly disease. I want to see a healthier and happier Jamaica, and we have to make an effort to start the revolution in healthy living now," Lue said.
If you want to assist young Emilio, you may contact his father, Romario McDonald, at 876-282-3128.