Burglars took more than material items when they broke into Jennifer Kiggins' School Street home on consecutive days last week.
Besides helping themselves to jewelry as they ransacked the home, they also took a gift her late father-in-law gave to her 4-year-old son, Bryson Patrola, shortly before he was diagnosed with muscle cancer two years ago: An Apple iPad that was his last gift to the child.
"If it were just my iPad, I could replace it," Kiggins said. "But that's a memory of his grandfather, there's a connection with it. That's the most devastating part."
Bryson Patrola was diagnosed with Rhabdomyosarcoma several months before his third birthday. It is a cancer that forms in muscles attached to bones. Patrola's tumor formed in his left pectoral muscle.
"It was the size of a soccer ball," his mother said. "He was on chemotherapy for two years."
The tumor was removed and he has been in remission since October 2010. The long-term prognosis for Patrola is uncertain, and he will have quarterly chest scans for the next three years to see if the tumor reappears.
"After that, he should be clear," Kiggins said.
He first started showing symptoms May 14, 2009, the same day his grandfather was hospitalized for what would eventually be diagnosed as pancreatic cancer. Patrola was diagnosed as having a cancerous tumor several weeks later on June 2. It was the same day his grandfather died. The date also coincided with his father's birthday.
As Kiggins sat with her back to the sun at House of Coffees near Lakewood Mall, she struggled to understand what went through the burglars' minds as they emptied drawers and emptied cupboards.
"Didn't they see the pictures of the bald kid on the wall while they were doing it?" Kiggins said. "Whatever. It's not like that would make a difference to them."
Her house on School Street, between Tokay and Vine streets, was broken into twice last weekend. The first incident took place while she was at work — the second the following day as she visited family.
But with the help of the Lodi Police Department, community groups and a local business, Kiggins' home is being made safer and a replacement iPad for her son is being purchased.
The help came when Cpl. Roger Butterfield, of the Lodi Police Department, met with Kiggins and felt compelled to see how he could help.
"I've been a cop for 20 years and not a lot gets to me," Butterfield said. "But this got to me."
He reached out to Paul Alamo of Alamo Alarm and told Patrola's story. Alamo immediately offered to install a security system in Kiggins' home.
"We haven't seen the size of her home and there are specifics to nail out, but we could have a system installed as early as next week," said Dana Buck, general manager of Alamo Alarm.
A basic alarm system costs about $850, Buck said.
The Lodi Eagles 848 Auxiliary is donating several hundred dollars to help replace Patrola's iPad, Butterfield said. The Lodi Police Officers Association president, Detective Paul Blandford, said the association would combine funds with the Eagles club and others to replace the iPad.
Contact reporter Jordan Guinn at firstname.lastname@example.org.