Season for Caring, Hospice Austin, Joey Jimenez – Austin American-Statesman


Glass cabinets filled with religious art and photos of children sit behind the Jimenez family’s dining room table. The collection is so large that it extends to the roof of the cabinet and spills over onto a side table.
The photos sit both loosely and in frames, surrounded by elaborate glasses, two sports trophies and a ceramic cookie jar goose. There’s a bust of Mary and a large statue of Jesus with two fingers raised, cows at his feet.
A saint’s bracelet rests on 28-year-old Joey Jimenez’s wrist as he sits at the dining room table, and above his head, on the very top of the larger cabinet, stands a painted wooden sign that reads: “All things with Jesus.”
Jesus — and the Catholic faith overall — has served as a source of hope and refuge for the Jimenez family throughout Joey Jimenez’s brain cancer treatment during the past couple years. Unremovable tumors applying pressure to the left side of his brain and the back of his eye sockets have impacted functions on his right side, his eyesight and his ability to speak.
Even though he’s nonverbal and struggles with mobility, Joey Jimenez still watches the rosary ceremony every morning and works to look after his mother, Michelle Jimenez, 57, and youngest brother, JonPaul, 17 — just as he promised his late father he would.
“Even with this illness, he sees me,” Michelle Jimenez said. “I know he knows my struggles. If I’m hurting — I have arthritis — he knows, and he just… tries so hard for me not to keep bending down… he needs assistance with his socks and dressing, and he tries, and I don’t want him to strain. I tell him, ‘It’s OK, it’s OK, Joey. Just rest your leg on my leg.’”
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Michelle Jimenez said Joey has always been a caring son with a big heart for his family. Before his illness and after his father’s death from kidney failure in 2016, Joey Jimenez would take his mother and brother JonPaul to dinner on Friday nights, buy groceries from H-E-B on Saturday mornings and help with bills and JonPaul’s back-to-school prep. He even installed a Ring camera to ensure his loved ones’ safety.
He continues to find small ways to look after his family, such as insisting through gestures that his mother eat half of the hamburger his younger brother Jacob sometimes brings him for lunch.
Michelle Jimenez said she knew something was wrong with Joey when he began having uncharacteristic mood changes and a short temper. He’d had tumors before because of a condition called neurofibromatosis, but they’d always been benign. So when Joey received his cancer diagnosis, Michelle Jimenez and Varnador didn’t want to believe it.
Joey Jimenez, however, took it with grace because of an earlier scare with one of his nieces. She’d had a cyst in her brain, and Joey Jimenez had prayed it wasn’t cancer. He prayed God would let him take on cancer in his niece’s place.
“He has cancer, and he could be sitting there questioning, ‘Why me? Why do I have to go through this? I already went through so much growing up,’” said Bridget Varnador, Joey’s older sister. “And there he was just almost gracefully at peace with it.”
Joey Jimenez underwent chemotherapy from 2020 to 2021, and his doctor suggested trial medications at MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston. Joey Jimenez refused to put his mother through such a process, even though she wanted to keep trying treatments. In her eyes, stopping treatment meant giving up. She turned to prayer, asking God if they should go to MD Anderson.
“Joey’s body had already (said), ‘No more chemo.,” Michelle Jimenez said. “His blood counts were not cooperating any longer. So here’s where we’re at today, enjoying Joey every day.”
More:Read more Season for Caring stories
The Jimenez family’s wishes:
House repairs to enhance Joey’s comfort and safety, including wheelchair ramps in the front and backyard, raising the built-in bathroom vanity, grab bars in the bathroom, replacing three inside doors, replacing a toilet, new kitchen countertop, new refrigerator brackets and shelves; car repairs including fixing an oil leak, transmission fluid flush, and more; headstone and help with burial expenses; help with paying off bills; help with utilities; gift cards for winter clothes for Joey, JonPaul and Michelle; a laptop; tree trimming service; family portrait; baby monitor; Keurig coffee maker; pots and pans; driver’s education for JonPaul; family weekend trip to the beach or somewhere local; an evening at La Margarita restaurant in Round Rock; Green Bay Packers memorabilia for Joey; eyeglasses for Michelle; gift cards to Chic-fil-A for Joey; and gift cards to H-E-B, Target and Marshall’s.
Wish list available on Amazon.
Nominated by: Hospice Austin, 4107 Spicewood Springs Road, Austin, TX 78759. 512-342-4726, hospiceaustin.org.
Its mission: To ease the physical, emotional and spiritual pain of any person in our community facing the final months of an illness.

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