LAKEWOOD RANCH — Jayne Alexis Keys had one last wish — to play in the snow.
As she crouched on her knees and peered outside through a window at her Braden Woods home, she watched eagerly as a truck emptied snow in her yard Dec. 3.
As the snow hit ground, Jayne, determined to build a snowman and toss snowballs while wearing her pink boots and matching gloves, shouted, “I see it! I see it!”
Less than one week after she enjoyed her wish, Jayne died from stage 4 rhabdomyosarcoma, a cancerous soft-tissue tumor of the muscles.
Jayne’s battle with cancer ended at her home in the company of her family at 12:30 p.m. Dec. 8. She was 4 years old.
Growing up in Vermont, Jayne saw snow all the time. She came from a family of skiers.
Since the family’s move to Florida to escape Vermont’s harsh winters when Jayne was 3 years old, she would constantly ask about playing in snow again.
Jayne’s father, Joshua, says the family planned to drive to Vermont to see snow this winter, but his daughter’s deteriorating health wouldn’t allow it.
“We simply wanted her to see snow before she passed,” Joshua Keys said. “She remembered it and missed it, and it’s what she really wanted.”
Neighbors and friends had joined Jayne for her snow day; some of them frolicked in the snow with her, while others snapped photos, watched and smiled.
As her parents helped her build a small snowman, Jayne insisted she could insert the carrot nose by herself.
The act displayed a passion for life Jayne showed everyone during her short life.
“To all who knew Jayne, she was larger than life,” Joshua Keys said.
Spotlight Amusements, in Sarasota, provided the snow for a small fee. Lee’s Ice drove the snow to the Keys’ home.
Jayne was diagnosed with cancer in March 2012. The illness started when Jayne’s calf swelled up after a fall. She soon started limping, but made little of it. Her parents also found a mass on her pelvis.
“The doctors didn’t give her much time or a chance,” Joshua Keys said. “But she just kept fighting and lived longer than they thought she would.”
Rhabdomyosarcoma is a rare tumor, with only several hundred new cases per year throughout the United States. It usually affects children ages 8 to 12.
Contact Josh Siegel at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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