KALAMAZOO, Mich. (WOOD) — Jude Boussom has tight curls these days, but he didn’t always. His hair changed drastically from the pin-straight look he sported when he started his freshman year at Kalamazoo Central High School. The curls are courtesy of chemotherapy.
In January 2021, doctors diagnosed Boussom with a cancerous brain tumor.
“I had really bad memory loss. I had a few events where I could not remember anything that happened within the last minute. I would keep in this endless loop, and it scared my parents,” Boussom said.
He had suffered from bad headaches since third grade, but the memory loss was new and led to his diagnosis.
Boussom was already learning from home when this happened since schools were in a pandemic lockdown. He had surgery and then spent two months in the hospital before returning to school in his sophomore year.
“By the time I got back, (my hair) was fully curly. People were not recognizing me, thinking I got a perm and things, but little did they know,” he said.
Little did he know, his dad signed him up for Make-A-Wish Michigan. He said it was good his dad didn’t ask permission. He believed a common misconception about Make-A-Wish is that children who are chosen must have a terminal illness.
The foundation supports any children with a life-threatening illness, but many go on to lead full, healthy lives.
Boussom was selected as a wish recipient. While kids often wish to go to exotic places or for a trip to Disney World, he had a different idea. He turned his gift into more gifts.
He wished for presents he could give to children in the hospital fighting a disease like his.
“Something that helped me a lot was just to pretend that I was not there and not going through this. Sometimes, playing video games would help with that. I just thought that would be a good way to help other kids get their minds off their current condition,” he said.
Boussom used his wish to organize several giveaways at hospitals throughout the state, including a Christmas in July event at Bronson Hospital in Kalamazoo.
He said this isn’t about the toys or games. It’s also a way to show sick children someone like them, who is now healthy.
“There is a lot of gratitude in that. Hopefully, it’ll make a butterfly effect of like me giving this, doing this kind of act and then everybody can kind of spread positivity and love,” said Boussom.
Doctors will reassess Boussom at the three-year mark to decide if he needs to stay on his low dose of chemotherapy, which has caused the curl transformation.
He hopes that the curls will stay even if he goes off the meds. With or without them, it’s clear he will always wear his generous spirit like a crown.