When Jack was just three years old, he was visiting a fountain at the park with his grandma – an x-ray technician – when she noticed a bump on his right side. He saw his pediatrician the next day who referred him to Children’s Health℠ for a scan, which revealed a mass growing on his right kidney.
Jack was admitted to the Pauline Allen Gill Center for Cancer and Blood Disorders at Children’s Health and the next day underwent surgery to remove the six-pound Wilms tumor and his right kidney.
He started chemotherapy treatments once a week for the next six months, where he earned the title of “Super Jack” because he loved wearing his Superman costume to his treatments and loved the Superman car in the Children’s Health train display.
His mom, Amy says it wasn’t easy, but she felt lucky that his cancer was treatable and that Jack was in great hands.
“I trust the caregivers at Children’s Health,” she says. “They have the patients’ best interests at heart and treat them as kids and not just little adults.”
After Jack completed his treatments, his cancer went into remission and he lived a relatively normal life for a young boy. But, by fourth grade, he developed chronic kidney disease (CKD) in his left – and only – kidney, due to late effects of chemotherapy. CKD decreases the kidneys’ ability to filter blood properly and is associated with chronic headaches and fatigue.
Today, Jack is closely followed by the nephrology department at Children’s Health, the largest pediatric nephrology program in North Texas. Fortunately, he is able to manage his CKD through diet and medication. He drinks at least two liters of water daily and consumes less than 250 mg of sodium and 45 mg of protein each day. He doesn’t often eat in restaurants due to his dietary restrictions, but gets his favorite meal on his birthday each December: steak!
The family has walked this journey with both sons, as Jack’s older brother, Matt, is a patient in the Children’s Health endocrinology department and has undergone surgery to remove a brain malformation of his cerebellum.
Jack continues to see specialists at Children’s Health and is a patient in the After the Cancer Experience (ACE) Program, one of the only programs of its kind in the United States that provides long-term monitoring for children, adolescents and young adult survivors of childhood cancer.
“We enjoy ‘boring’ everyday life and are grateful for daily living,” says Amy.
It would be easy for Jack to feel sorry for himself, but he stays positive by giving back and donating toys for other children in the hospital.
“I realize there are other kids who have it much worse than I do,” Jack says. “I want other kids to have a chance to have fun while they’re in the hospital, and it makes my day to load the car up with toys and bring them to other patients.”