By Lindsey Seavert, WCCO-TV

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.

Comments (16)
  1. Bill says:

    Thank you Andover Fire Department. Wow. You’re the best.

  2. JLD says:

    I’ve been following this story on Caringbridge for close to a year now; it is both heart-wrenching and heart-warming; I pray for this family every day and I pray for a miracle. Thank you to the Andover Fire Dept for helping had some joy to this boys life.

  3. TJentges says:

    I was very touched by this story. Thanks to the Andover Fire Department, your kindness is inspiring. Best wishes to the Jensen family. I hope there are many more lights along your journey.

  4. tnel says:

    does anyone have a link to how to put a donation into the fund for them?

    1. llinden says:

      Stop by any Wells Fargo bank to make a donation,

  5. Judy Hemmerlin says:

    This certainly makes our own problems look small and makes us appreciate what we have. Our thoughts and prayers go out to the family. Great job Andover firement!

  6. big k says:

    Its nice to see a story like this instead of all the violence, stupid political garbage or one of those “special news stories” that have no point or meaning to them. I want to see more of this, the good in the world.

  7. Jerry Lee says:

    I agree with Big K, there is too much “sour” news constantly being broadcast! Stories like this are what I like to see. This little boy will be in our prayers every day and I sincerely hope there is a miracle out there for him. I have a 9 year old “special” grandson and know how I would feel if he were in the same, or similar, situation. God Bless to the family and the fire department!

  8. Justis says:

    Touching story but I am wondering why a Forest Lake child has to go to Andover? What’s wrong with the Forest Lake Fire Dept.?

    1. John Wallace, Andover Chief #5 says:

      There is a personal connection between one of our own and the Jensen family. The Andover Fire Department was honored to be able to spend time with Nathan and his family.

  9. Jeannine says:

    AFD, what a class act you all are! Thank you so much. You have much to be proud of. Trish, not a day goes by I am not thinking of you guys. Hang in there, thank you for letting the camera roll on this. I know your journey is a rough road right now, please know so many folks are here to support you guys in any way you may need.

  10. toni Leader says:

    We just happened to have a friend in the Andover Fire Department who passed on the request for a day visit. Andover totally stepped up to the plate to make it extra special. I’m sure Forest Lake would be just as wonderful.

  11. Barbara Whipple says:

    Three cheers for the Andover fire dept, hope and pray many will join in making donations things are tough and tight right now for this family

  12. Rex Kent says:

    We have been blessed to get to know Nathan and his family, and our daily thoughts and prayers are always with them. Nathan is an incredible inspiration and he has our hearts.

  13. Rex Kent says:

    We have been blessed to get to know Nathan and his family, and our daily thoughts and prayers are always with them. Nathan is an incredible inspiration and he has our hearts. The Andover Fire Dept made a dream come true.