Beating the Odds When They’re All Stacked Against You
For the first 2-1/2 years of his life, Jack was an ordinary healthy toddler, never suffering from anything worse than a common cold. But just three months shy of his third birthday things began to change. Jack started running a low-grade fever and began complaining of pain in his left armpit. Within a few days the pain was severe enough that Jack stopped using his left arm altogether. His mother, Laurie, also noticed that one of Jack’s pupils was smaller than the other.
Jack’s pediatrician recommended they take him to Phoenix Children’s Hospital for a CT scan. The results of that scan were alarming: Jack had a very large mass and needed to be admitted immediately. After days of tests upon tests, Zac and Laurie received the devastating news: Jack had Stage IV Neuroblastoma, a rare cancer of the central nervous system.
How do we Beat This?
“At the time we had so many questions,” says Laurie. “What is that? Is it genetic?” The one question they didn’t ask because they didn’t want to hear the answer to was, “What are his chances?” They knew the statistics were not good, but the Phoenix Children’s Center for Cancer and Blood Disorders provided all the assurance they needed.
Jack’s pediatric oncologist, Dr. Francis Eshun, immediately began explaining the situation. “He was honest, straightforward and he truly cared about Jack and our family,” says Laurie. They started treatment right away: six rounds of very heavy chemo, surgery to remove his main tumor, a stem cell transplant, 20 sessions of radiation, a CH14.18 antibody treatment and Accutane. Not to mention endless numbers of transfusions, blood draws, overnights at the hospital, pain and medications.
Through it all, Jack Never Complained
He never asked why. The worst part for him seemed to be not being able to get wet because of the central line in his chest. This meant no shower, no swimming and worst of all, no water gun fights! On May 18, 2010—his mother’s birthday no less—Jack had his final treatment scans and they all came back clear. After being told that he had the most coverage of neuroblastoma they had seen in 35 years, Jack beat the odds. Today, he is happy, loving and so appreciative of everything.
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