Meet Jack: 2020 Family Advocacy Week Champion

Jack is participating in Speak Now for Kids Family Advocacy Week from August 10-14, 2020. Through this special event, Jack and his family will share information about his health journey, Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital’s role in providing Jack with necessary health care services, and why the public and our elected officials must invest in the future of kids like Jack. ]

After feeling tired and weak, 13-year-old Jack went to see his pediatrician at Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital in Hollywood, Florida. His doctor first suspected hepatitis C and sent Jack home to isolate until they knew more. However, when blood work results came back, Jack was immediately sent to the emergency room where he was quickly admitted to the ICU.

After three days in the ICU, doctors were unsure of Jack’s diagnosis. He was tested for infectious diseases, auto-immune diseases, and cancer. Then after more blood work and two bone marrow extractions, he was diagnosed with leukemia.

The first year was intense for Jack and his family. Repeated hospitalizations, sometimes up to three weeks at a time, and chemotherapy treatments made things tough.

“We were lucky that Jack’s leukemia was curable, but the side effects of the chemotherapy were the hardest to overcome,” says Jack’s mom, Kay. “I don’t think people realize the side effects can become permanent and can take longer to overcome than the chemotherapy treatment itself.”

As of his last day of treatment in December 2019, Jack had undergone three and a half years of chemotherapy.

“I stopped working in order to take care of Jack full-time that first year since he could not go to school,” says Kay. “Not knowing the outcome was hard. The impact on our daily lives was tremendous, but the emotional impact was even greater.”

Today, Jack is thriving. He’s currently in remission from leukemia but dealing with osteonecrosis as a side effect from chemotherapy. Jack’s positive outlook on life went a long way during his treatment and dealing with setbacks from his treatment. Even when Jack struggles, he always has a kind word for his caretakers.

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