Jack’s Story: Surviving a Brain Tumor

In July, 2008 Bre and Tony welcomed their first son, Jack, into their family. They were so in love with their new little boy, and it was immediately obvious that he had his dad’s laid back personality and the gift of gab from his mom.

At about 3 months old Jack started sleeping more and randomly vomiting. After several trips to the doctor, they were told he had a stomach virus and it would work itself out. Knowing something wasn’t right and trusting their gut feeling that had been lingering for a couple weeks, Bre and Tony took him to the Emergency Room, where after an MRI he was diagnosed with a brain tumor. They were devastated, to say the least, and their world had been forever changed.

After that initial diagnosis, Jack spent about ten days in the pediatric ICU and another week getting visits from oncology doctors to assess his case. Doctors discovered that Jack had an optic glioma in his chiasm, which are generally slow growing, but inoperable. So far, Jack has endured three brain surgeries for a biopsy and shunts, MRI’s, countless CT scans, a feeding tube placement and many more procedures the parents have lost track of. Up until this point, Jack has received the standard chemotherapy protocol that has been effective at keeping his tumor at bay.

As they started their cancer journey, the family were surprised to learn that the brain tumor treatment options have changed very little in the past 30 years. They set about to support new research by having a team at Children’s Cancer Research Fund’s annual event, Time to Fly. Their team, “Jack Attack” has raised more than $45,000 for research in the past 3 years.

After completing 16 months of chemotherapy, Jack was doing remarkably well and the tumor showed very little signs of growth. Jack also became a big brother when the family welcomed Tommy to their family in 2010. After more than a year break from chemotherapy, a routine MRI spotted a new growth in his tumor and Jack began weekly chemotherapy again in April of 2011.

Bre says that Jack is happy despite all of his treatments, hospital visits and is the absolute light of their lives. He is such a joy and loves everyone who gives him a smile. He enjoys riding his bike and wrestling with his brother Tommy.

Since the tumor is in his optic chiasm and spreading along the optic pathways, Jack does receive some vision therapy to help cope with his vision loss. He also has had some physical and occupational therapy to ensure he stays on track with his peers. Last summer, the family were thrilled to learn that he scored so well on his assessment tests that he didn’t qualify for any extra help other than his Vision Therapy. His best score was in the personal-social development category – which was no surprise to anyone who knows little Jack!

In July 2011, the family received discouraging news that Jack’s tumor is growing once again. Jack receives ongoing chemotherapy treatment to keep his tumor at bay. Bre finds comfort knowing that Jack will take this next stage of his cancer journey in stride and continue to help mom and dad get through it as well.