In the spring of 2009, when Jack was ten years old, he started to show symptoms of his pituitary gland starting to fail. After five months of closely monitoring his symptoms and pituitary gland with monthly MRIs, things began to look worse... doctors told Jack and his family that he needed to undergo brain surgery to biopsy the area they were worried about. Jack recalls the events "I will never forget the moment a doctor I had never seen entered my room a week after recovering from my brain surgery at Johns Hopkins. He walked in, sat on the side of my hospital bed, and told me I had cancer... When I heard those words, I remember my heart dropping deep down into my stomach, a feeling I had never felt before. My ears started to ring, and I tuned out everything around me as my mind began to race a mile a minute. I looked at my mom and dad and asked them if I was going to die. I told them I didn’t want to die."
A few weeks after Jack's surgery, Jack his dad and three brothers, Chris, Nick, and Liam, all took turns shaving each other's heads in their kitchen because, in the coming days, Jack would start his first round of chemotherapy. During the summer of 2009, Jack spent weeks at a time inpatient at Children’s National. After four months, 16 rounds of chemotherapy, monthly spinal taps, and countless MRIs, Jack and his parents were told the treatment was working, and he was in remission but needed to go to Boston, MA, to start radiation. After three months of radiation, Jack was cleared to go home and return to life as a 'normal kid.' He returned to school and slowly tried to get back into the swing of things. When Jack recalls this time, he says, "I remember being worried that I was going to be treated differently, but, for the most part, everyone treated me the same even though I was the only 5th grader they had seen with a bald head. Not everything was the same though, because the chemo and radiation took a toll on my brain and body. I had to work a lot harder in school, sports, and daily life to keep up, and I continued to need many different medications because my pituitary gland was completely destroyed. These are medications I will continue to take for the rest of my life."
Jack is now 14 years cancer free, a graduate of Wake Forest University, and travels around the country performing his music for crowds as a DJ/producer under the name Onelove.
As Jack reflects on his story, he said "My journey with cancer forced me to grow up incredibly fast and radically shifted my perspective on life at such a young age. I began to process how incredibly precious life and our time on earth is. How something as evil, dark, and unfair as cancer also has the ability to bring a family together with unimaginable love, rally a community together with strong support, and raise money and awareness towards a much-needed cure."
To learn more about Jack's story, check out this episode of the LBF Podcast, where we sat down with Jack to discuss his cancer journey.