Joey's Story

Joey Glow prior to his brain cancer diagnosis.
Joey during his cancer treatment.

Joey's Story

Saturday, September 8, 2018

Written by Joey's mom, Kathy Glow - Published september 8, 2018

The morning of Wednesday, April 22, 2009 was like any typical morning at our house: a lazy breakfast of toaster waffles and Playhouse Disney for our five and three-year-olds while their 15-month-old brother emptied plastic storage containers from every kitchen cabinet. The only odd thing about that morning was that our oldest five-year-old twin, Joey, was not yet out of bed.

Joey was always the first one out of bed, full of energy and ready to begin the day. As I entered his room, it didn’t immediately dawn on me that something was seriously wrong when I saw vomit on the floor next to his bed and watched as his eyes jerked to the side.

Suddenly, panic and fear took hold as I realized, 'I have to call 911.'

The minutes that I waited to hear the sirens approach my house were agonizing. As First Responders arrived and swarmed in - four from the fire truck and two from the paramedic truck- and began to work, I felt like I was in a dream. No, a nightmare. I answered a barrage of questions: did he have any pre-existing medical conditions? Could he have ingested anything? Had he recently hit his head? Had he recently been ill?

At Children’s Hospital, he was taken to get a CT scan and then, in deadpan, the ER doctor said to me, "Well, bad news, it's a tumor."

My mind immediately started racing. 'We're supposed to be on a picnic for Earth Day right now, a picnic Joey planned. We were going to clean up the park.How does a little boy who can plan that have a tumor?'

How does a five-year-old get a brain tumor? It’s a question we’ve been asking ourselves since that fateful day. This is something no parent sees coming. Three weeks before his seizure, he was a happy, energetic, creative child with a clean bill of health from the pediatrician who had performed his kindergarten check-up. But yet, there were the excruciating headaches he had suffered at least three times, so severe that he had vomited each time. I wrote them off as migraines or allergies and was just getting ready to call the pediatrician about them, but obviously it wouldn't have mattered. We later learned that six is the average age that most pediatric brain tumors are diagnosed.

After a two-week hospital stay, we received the news that Joey’s tumor was a grade 3 anaplastic astrocytoma, a star-shaped tumor that was inoperable. Our world crashed around us as we slowly came to terms with the fact that we would lose our precious first-born child.

For the next fourteen months we watched as he faded away before our eyes. The radiation treatments gave him tremors and stole his short-term memory, the chemotherapy took his gorgeous wavy blonde hair, and the steroids caused his lean five-year-old body to bloat and become uncomfortably immobile.

Joey lost his cancer battle on June 10, 2010, leaving behind a six-year-old twin brother who is now about to enter his freshman year of high school without his other half. He left behind four- and two-year-old brothers, now 13 and 10, who frequently verbalize their pain over missing a brother who gave the best hugs and thought of the most fun games. He left behind a brother who never had the chance to meet him, now seven, who quite often says how much he would like to know Joey.

And he left behind two parents who desperately wish that no parent would ever have to face this nightmare again.

Brain cancers now surpass all other pediatric cancers as the leading cause of death for children under the age of 17, but treatment for these cancers has remained tragically undeveloped in the past 20 years, treatments which frequently leave children with deficits in learning, speaking, and motor function and take them away from their homes for months at a time.

Team Jack’s focus is to make an impact now, not tomorrow. Its objective is to fund research at the top research centers in the world and bring that research and treatment to the families in Nebraska who need it. Please consider helping their cause in any way you can. Your help can potentially prevent the nightmare that happened to our family from happening to another. Donate to Team Jack here.

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