ANDOVER (WCCO) — It’s practically every little boy’s dream to be a firefighter. The childhood wish realized for a Forest Lake boy, who has had his share of hardship in his nine short years of life.
Nathan Jensen, 8, was an honorary firefighter at the volunteer Andover Fire Department Saturday. First, he was outfitted with his own personal uniform and helmet, and then he was hoisted into the front seat for a ride around the city.
Doctors diagnosed him with brain cancer almost a year ago. Since the tumors have progressed, Nathan has been in the hospital three times in the past three weeks. He recently had surgery for a shunt.
“In October, we found more tumors outside the brain stem and cerebellum,” said his mother, Trisha Jensen.
That diagnosis was difficult enough, but last November, the Jensens’ journey took another tragic turn.
“Having to make hard decisions by myself is hard not having him there, and not having someone on that journey with me,” said Trisha.
Trisha’s husband and Nathan’s dad, Troy, died in late November from a sudden asthma attack at just 35 years old.
“There are trigger moments. Actually being in the hospital on Nathan’s birthday, that was my husband’s birthday too, they shared a birthday,” said Trisha, which is Jan.15.
Even more unimaginable, Trisha and Troy planned to add to their family. Their third baby, a girl, will be born in May.
“As it gets closer, it gets scarier,” said Trisha.
So, at time when strength seems uncertain, the men in uniform offered their hearts. They let Nathan fight from the front seat of the fire truck, where he could see the world just as he dreamed.
“This kid grew up wanted to be a fireman. I think we can do that even if a few hours make it a special day for him,” said Andover Fire District Chief John Wallace. “He’s our firefighter, and he’s going to be a part of our family, and Andover Fire Department family.”
And it was a special day, because Trisha saw something she hadn’t seen in a while.
“I saw some smiles today, so that was good,” said Trisha, who said she relies on her faith. “Smiles have been hard to come by lately.”
In these moments, the Jensens are rescued. Today, a little boy left behind his worries and a heartbroken mother learns to stop asking why. “It’s more, what now, what is next? Where do we take the next step, because life doesn’t stop. You step up and do what you need to do for your kids, and try to get through the rest.”
There is a fund set up for the family at all Wells Fargo Banks under the Jensen Memorial Fund.