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Jack - Childhood Cancer

Jack - Childhood Cancer

On the outside, Curtis (or Jack, as his family calls him) is just your typical 12-year-old boy. He likes the same things as any other boy would; watching Star Wars, playing video games and spending time with his mom, stepfather and brother in Bremerton, Washington. Unfortunately, unlike most other children his age, Jack was diagnosed with cancer. 

Jack’s story began started towards the end of 5th grade, when he was experiencing severe itching from head to toe. Believing it was nothing more than a rash, the family’s father-daughter pediatrics team in Kitsap County gave him a round of steroids and sent him on his way. It wasn’t until the end of summer that his family realized the itching represented something far worse than a rash. “Each summer, Jack and his brother go to Tennessee for seven weeks to spend time with their dad,” said Kristen, Jack’s mom. “As soon as I saw him again, I could not believe my eyes – my son’s appearance had changed drastically, and his energy levels lowered significantly. I knew something was off.” Upon his return, Jack had lost 18 pounds and was sleeping for 22 hours of the day.  

In dire need of some answers, the father-daughter duo continued their research. Finally, an X-ray showed a large mass in Jack’s chest, revealing he had Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. The next day, he had an appointment at Seattle Children’s Hospital and on September 7, 2017, Jack underwent the first five rounds of chemotherapy in a three week cycle.

Working with Seattle Children’s Hospital to determine the next treatment step, his family decided to pursue proton therapy. Because of the location of Jack’s tumor, and because of his age, proton therapy was ultimately the best treatment option.

Of SCCA Proton Therapy Center, Kristen says: “We are so glad we decided to go with protons. From the treatment plan to the staff, everything was amazingly wonderful. Working with the same people every day, who knew Jack’s medical background, was incredible.” Being the brave, strong boy that he is, Jack handled the 14 sessions of protons like a champ; he didn’t experience any side effects, never threw up, and even loved his proton mask.

Since receiving proton therapy, Jack has graduated from the 6th grade, currently attends school three full days a week, and has returned to life as a 12-year-old boy. Although his energy levels still remain low, his end-of-treatment scans show no disease in half of his lymph nodes and 80 – 90 percent clearance in the other half.

Kristen recommends to other parents facing a similar situation: “Proton therapy helped save my son’s life, and for that we are grateful. Ask the right questions, do your research, and never give up hope, because sometimes, answers are just around the corner.”