Wicked Local Middleton


By Kate Evans/ Tri-Town Transcript


Jodi SampsonJodi Sampson found herself living a nightmare when her 22-month-old son was diagnosed with incurable brain cancer in 1998 and given six months to live.


The Middleton woman didn’t even have time to process her son Michael’s shocking diagnosis before doctors swooped in with talk of intensive treatment plans.


Michael endured a stem cell transplant and five years of chemotherapy until 2004 when he was in kindergarten and taken off the drug because he appeared to be getting better. A fluid build-up in his brain caused a seizure during the transplant, which caused brain damage. Doctors remedied the fluid build-up by placing shunts (tubes to help drain the fluid) in his head. The shunts sporadically become blocked and require surgeries to clean or replace them; Michael has had at least 25 surgeries since they were first installed and his most recent was in January of this year.


Despite his occasional visit to the Emergency Department at Massachusetts General Hospital for surgery and impaired learning as a result of the brain damage, Michael is a functioning sophomore at Masconomet Regional High School. In his spare time he likes to swim, play the trumpet and work out at the gym.


And although Jodi admits she is not a writer, she wrote a book about it all.


“When I was in the hospital with Michael, there was a lot of downtime, a lot of waiting time, and I found that personally, writing helped me with my anxiety, my fears, my anger, my faith – just things that you kind of struggle with when you’re dealing with a child facing a life threatening illness,” said Jodi. “I found that just writing in a notebook and just writing down how I felt really helped me a lot.”


Jodi self-published her novel, “The Face of a Miracle: A Mother, a Son, and the Journey of Life and Faith That Lies in All of Us,” on Jan. 17 and she has since had four book talks – the most recent at St. Agnes Parish in Middleton on Tuesday, May 7.


Her book centers around Michael’s journey through his mother’s eyes, while overlapping with her battle against breast cancer; she was diagnosed at an early stage in 2006 and beat the disease, then she was diagnosed again late last year. The book shows readers how Jodi, in the midst of such hardship, was able to find peace with herself and her life under the difficult circumstances.


“Hope is what I would like people to take away after reading ‘The Face of a Miracle,’” said Jodi. “Also we need to take care of ourselves and discover what works to keep us healthy, physically mentally and spiritually.”


Designer turned author


Jodi has worked in the clothing design industry for 30 years. She took time away during Michael’s illness, but has been at her current job as a freelance clothing designer at City Sports for the past five years.


The designer-turned-author began to seriously consider writing a book about her experience in 2008 – a decade after Michael’s diagnosis — when a friend suggested she use all her notes to compile it.


Although writing was not her forte, she liked the idea of chronicling her journey.


She hired an editor and the two worked together to develop characters, add and eliminate scenes and make her work something sellable – all profits from the book go to pediatric brain tumor research at Massachusetts General Hospital for Children.


Jodi hopes that a publishing company will pick up her book, which is now published under the self-publishing company iUniverse.


So in the midst of undergoing radiation treatment, working at City Sports, juggling her five-member family, practicing her faith, exercising and maintaining a health-conscious diet, Jodi finds time to promote her book. She will speak to Masco students on May 21 and 23, and she plans to continue public speaking and spreading her words.


About ‘Miracle’


In the first chapter, Jodi recalls her childhood and adolescence, when she met her now-husband, Mark. She details arguments with her older sister Anne over borrowing clothing (comparing them to World War II), and just four pages later she transitions from a rule-breaking teenager to a heartbroken wife dealing with a miscarriage.


Despite pregnancy troubles, Jodi goes on to share that she was able to have two daughters – one is now 23 years old and the other is 20. The book takes a turn for the serious when her brother died unexpectedly while she was pregnant with her third child, Michael. Several years later he was diagnosed, and the book follows both his and her medical journeys towards good health.


“The Face of a Miracle” is rated five out of five stars on Amazon, with seven customers ranking it the highest review.


Elaine Panella of Southold, New York pointed out that the book is encouraging to anyone facing a health crisis.


“This is a very personal and uplifting account of courage, love, faith and belief in the promises of God,” wrote Panella. “Jodi and her family claimed these promises in spite of the heart-wrenching and devastating curve balls thrown at them through disease. Indeed, a story of many miracles, you will be glad you read.”


Jodi hopes to spread her message to others that they, too, can overcome anything.


“I just want people to know there is something out there that can motivate them and help them be who they need to be and remain always hopeful,” Jodi said. “We can’t change a certain course of events that’s happened to us, but we can always move forward with hope.”