Bamm Bamm Forever

A tribute to Jadyn Williams


Photo provided by Stephanie Williams

Jadyn Williams holds a sign made to honor her fight.

On Nov. 13, 2017, Jadyn Williams passed away from childhood cancer. Jadyn Williams was diagnosed the previous year on Dec. 26 with Acute Myeloid Leukemia (AML), a cancer of blood-forming tissues which can cause damage to bone marrow.

“I remember the night of her death just feeling so defeated,” senior Jocelyn Williams said. “I have experienced death in my life before, but the feeling of hearing about the death of a friend, especially one so young, is unexplainable. That night, I remember 30 to 40 kids in our grade gathering in the courtyard at the middle school to pray for Jadyn and lift her up. To come home and hear that she had passed was so unexpected. My heart ached for everyone that knew her.”

Jadyn Williams on her Make-A-Wish trip to Hawaii. (Photo provided by Stephanie Williams)

AML is known to progress rapidly, interfering with the body’s white and red blood cells production, causing weight loss, fatigue, bruising and more. Treatments include chemotherapy, bone marrow transplants, stem cell transplants and other drug therapies.

Regardless of her struggle, Jadyn Williams stayed strong and kept fighting, which led her to adopt the nickname “Bamm Bamm,” after the Flintstones character Bamm-Bamm Rubble. Her perseverance and strength became some of her most admirable qualities, and her friends have not forgotten just how hopeful she was.

“100% I can say Jadyn’s best quality was her personality,” Jocelyn Williams said. “She never once let a smile leave her face as long as I knew her. I remember face-timing her and texting her from the hospital and she always had something positive to say. She would update me on her journey with cancer and even if it was bad news, she’d tell me that it was going to be okay and that she knew she could overcome it.”

Sure enough, the long fight paid off. On Aug. 11, 2017, Jadyn Williams went home to begin remission after scans came clear for cancer. She worked hard during physical therapy to regain her strength and reached 93lbs on Sept. 14, 2017. Shortly after, she was featured on an “STL Today” news broadcast as an honored hero recognizing childhood cancer.

Jadyn Williams, Brooklyn DeShurley, Ava Birk, Cailey Blackmer, Madelyn Small and Bryelle Hartman hanging out together over the summer. (Photo provided by Stephanie Williams)

In the next coming months, things started going downhill, and Jadyn Williams’ cancer got worse. The night of her death, mother Stephanie Williams made an Instagram post updating her daughter’s friends and family about her condition.

“Jadyn’s cancer has become extremely aggressive and has moved into her bone marrow and blood system,” Stephanie Williams posted to the @bammbammforever page, Jadyn Williams’ Instagram. “This has caused Jadyn to go into respiratory failure. Jadyn is in a medically induced coma and fighting for her life. She continues to fight hard.”

The comment section on the post soon became flooded with support. Even those who did not personally know Jadyn were sending prayers and other thoughtful messages to the family. Shortly after, it was announced that Jadyn had passed away.

“I took [Jadyn’s death] pretty tough, and I definitely was a little depressed for a while,” senior Daniel Wissler said. “I’d say her death impacted me mostly just to cherish life and respect what I have and try to live life to the fullest. And that’s the lesson I learned is even if you’re struggling in life, there’s always going to be ways out. You always have to think positively and hopefully. You can make it through.”

A funeral was held for Williams on Dec. 3, 2017, where almost everyone who attended wore T-shirts with a Bamm Bamm image on them or purple (the color of Leukemia’s cancer ribbon). A tree with purple blossoms was also planted at West Middle with a plaque in Jadyn Williams’ name.

Jadyn Williams and Cailey Blackmer getting off the bus on the last day of school. (Photo provided by Cailey Blackmer)

On May 23, 2018, the last day of school, the class of 2022 gathered outside with Jadyn Williams’ family to honor her life and the long fight she went through.

“She was an amazing person, and I definitely always, always miss her,” Wissler said. “I bring it up to my parents occasionally: just how sad it was and how much I respected her for always keeping a smile on her face when things got tough.”

Jadyn Williams had such a positive impact on others that private celebrations of her life were common among the class of 2022.

“One of the memorial things I did for Jadyn was a balloon release with just a couple of my friends,” Jocelyn Williams said. “We went to Fort Zumwalt park with purple balloons and released them. It was super peaceful and allowed us to come together and just remember her and the impact she made on our lives.”

To honor the one-year anniversary of Jadyn Williams’ passing, senior Cailey Blackmer hosted an event at West High on Nov. 13, 2018, that raised $314 for Friends of Kids With Cancer, an organization the Williams family says helped them the most. Those who came donated money by purchasing a balloon to release later during the night, buying raffle tickets for prize baskets, and by donating directly to a cash box. Attendees also wrote heartwarming notes for Jadyn Williams’ family to read. Although it had been a year since her passing, there was still a lot of emotion exhibited by those who were close friends with her.

“It just felt crazy to me that someone my age could die because my parents always said they would die before me, and that’s just how it is supposed to be, and I was just very devastated,” senior Kate Burnes said.

It has now been nearly four years since Jadyn passed, but she has not faded from the memory of her friends.

Jadyn Williams, Ava Birk and Cailey Blackmer at the bus stop before school. (Photo provided by Stephanie Williams)

“I’ve been thinking a lot lately about how much I wish she were here for our senior year,” Jocelyn Williams said. “We used to talk about how we’d be sitting right next to each other on graduation day since we share the same last name. I would just hug her and let her know that she impacted so many people in a positive way.”

Jadyn Williams left behind good memories as well as a few lessons. Her fight with cancer taught her friends things they would have never realized without her experience.

“I learned that anything can happen to you,” Burnes said. “Don’t take life for granted because you never know when something’s going to change.”

Jadyn Williams’ kind soul and positive attitude brightened up the lives of all around her. She will forever be remembered in the hearts of the class of 2022. Her hopefulness and optimism shone a bright light on those around her, and she served as an inspiration to other kids who struggle with similar conditions.

“I think [Jadyn] would tell [those with cancer] to never stop fighting and to stay hopeful,” Jocelyn Williams said. “She’d let them know that cancer does not define who they are and that they are strong enough to overcome this.”

If you feel inclined to donate, please do. Every penny counts. Below are the organizations the Williams family has said helped them the most:

Make-A-Wish Missouri and Kansas,
Friends of Kids With Cancer,
Leukemia and Lymphoma Society,
Be The Match,