He will always be a true hero, Super Jack.

He will always be a true hero, Super Jack.

Monday, September 12, 2016

Jack, better known as Super Jack, celebrated his 2nd birthday on June 9, 2014.  Jack’s dad described him as a free spirit with lots of energy.

“Jack loved to be outside, he loved the sand and just loved the outdoors.  He’s a free spirit,” said Tim, Jack’s dad.

Just one month later, in July 2014, Jack’s parents became concerned about an ongoing sickness.  After numerous doctor visits, rounds of anti-biotics and still not getting over his sickness, they became even more worried for their little boy.  The doctors advised them to make sure that Jack got plenty of rest and fluids.  One day, Jack slept the whole day, but was not getting the fluids he needed, his dad called the doctor for a third time.  After another visit to the urgent care, the doctor noted that Jack was not dehydrated, but noticed something was not right.  On July 14, 2014, the doctor admitted Jack to the hospital.  The next morning, he would have an MRI to test for meningitis. 

On July 15, about an hour into the MRI, the doctor came in and said Jack had a large mass in his head, roughly the size of a racquet ball.  Jack was diagnosed with a rare, cancerous tumor only found in young children — about 50 documented cases in the world at that time — with a survival rate of about 10 percent, specialists at St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis, Tennessee, told the family.

“We were certainly in shock.  We never thought it would happen to us.  There were a lot of questions in our head.  He was so young; you don’t think that is ever going to happen,” Tim said.

Doctors were hopeful that the next morning Jack could be taken into surgery to remove what they could of the tumor, however, because the tumor was causing so much pressure, his body began to shut down.  They rushed Jack into an emergency surgery where 75 percent of the tumor was removed.  One week later, the other 25 percent was removed.

After Jack’s surgery, his family had to decide their next steps. On August 3, 2014, Jack and his dad took off to St. Jude’s Hospital to begin treatment.  Jack’s mother, Sarah, was nearly nine months pregnant, so had to stay behind.  Once the baby was born, Sarah joined her family.

When they arrived at St. Jude’s Hospital, Jack ran into another complication.  He had staph infection.  On August 7, Jack had another surgery to clean out the infection in his head.  As a result, doctors did not put part of his skull back, which is why Super Jack had to wear a helmet.

After recovering from his surgery, they started treatment.  The original treatment plan was four rounds of chemotherapy (28 days for each round) followed by radiation.  After just three rounds of chemotherapy, they realized the tumor was growing back. They immediately stopped the chemo and went right to radiation.  Because Jack was so young, doctors wanted to attack the tumor as best they could.  This type of radiation would focus on the tumor, but also radiate a small region outside of the tumor to ensure that the tumor would not come back. Jack went through 30 days of treatment, every 30 days with no treatment on the weekends.

“Jack was certainly fatigued and would get sick periodically.  It was really hard to go through this. In our case, our son had a lot of energy, so that kept us going.  You just focus on the now and enjoy every minute you have,” his father said.

After radiation, they performed more scans.  At that time it seemed as though the radiation had slowed down the tumor growth. They went back to the drawing board for the next steps.  Doctors decided they would elevate Jack from the normal level of chemotherapy to two rounds of high risk level.  In March, he had another scan that revealed the tumor was still growing.  After this, Jack was put on a clinical trial.

“On the trial, you could take the medicine for several years until you find something else that works, and if you don’t find something else that works, you run out of options,” Tim said.

On June 9, Jack and his family returned home.  Upon coming home, Jack was doing really well; however, a few days later, another scan showed his tumor was growing back.  Jack entered hospice care and passed away just a few days later on August 22, 2015.

In an article to the Omaha World Herald, Jack’s father, Tim, said 3-year-old Jack would say “ ‘You just have to live your life and not worry about the little things.’ I think that’s the most important thing our son taught us.”

Jack’s parents called him “Super Jack” after the Man of Steel and other superheroes.  Although Super Jack lost his battle to cancer, he still put up a heck of a fight and for that, he will always be a true hero, Super Jack.

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