30 DAYS/30 STORIES® 2021
As I sit here and contemplate writing Jacob's story once again, I immediately start to cry. I cry because the last 5 years of our lives have been a rollercoaster ride. Jacob fought cancer, twice, and beat it. He is a two-time childhood cancer survivor!!! But at what cost?!! Just because he beat cancer twice does not mean it has been easy or it is easy.
Jacob is 15 years old, and he was first diagnosed with cancer when he was 9 years old. He was diagnosed with rhabdomyosarcoma. The cancer was found in the muscle tissue surrounding his right eye. The first time he fought, he fought for about 9 months and beat it. He was in remission for 13 months, then he relapsed. He fought for another 2 years, beat it, and he is currently in remission for the second time.
Jacob received chemotherapy and radiation. Traveling to Philadelphia wasn't easy. These two therapies are not like taking Tylenol. These treatments are ongoing. The side effects are scary. It makes me question myself… I am allowing poison to cure my child. I am giving permission for that so I won't lose my son; but in a way I lost him. I lost my oldest son, Jose Jr. I lost my youngest son, Jathaniel.
I say this because cancer has not been nice to us. Cancer only knows how to take. It has taken time away from us. It has created chaos, confusion, delays, and it has stirred up fear in our lives. Cancer has caused people to be distant, careful, irrelevant, and obsolete. We do not know where to stand? Which way do we go? Where do we go from here? Is cancer coming back for the third time? Will it be Jacob or one of my other children? Do I work full time? Go back to school?
The loss is so great. Jacob cannot get his childhood back. Jose Jr and Jathaniel will forever be traumatized with what their brother has gone through. (This is another story in itself.) I had to choose Jacob over my other two children multiple times. I did not have a choice, it had to be done… So does that mean I have favorites?
People still tell me that Jacob is lucky because he got the "good" cancer. What!? So receiving chemotherapy and radiation was nothing? Losing his hair was nothing? Throwing up, screaming in pain was nothing!? Losing friends was nothing!? Yes, people actually say that. When I first started hearing those words, it used to make me feel that Jacob's fight was not relevant enough. But that's a lie. Jacob's fight is relevant. It is big. It moved people, it changed people, it touched people's lives, and it still does.
There are a few good things that we did get through fighting cancer. We were introduced to PCFLV, who have helped me keep my family together through the events they have and the help they provide. We have an incredible medical team that became our family. And I know the best moms and children who do not know how to give up. I literally look at these women for inspiration because they know what I'm going through, they know what my children are going through. They have walked my path and/or are walking the path I walked.
Thank you to PCFLV for really helping us. Therapy has been essential; the school supplies help; Thanksgiving dinners, Christmas dinners, Christmas gifts, birthday gifts, the random stuff helps. As a single mother, it has truly helped my family and me. PCFLV has lifted burdens off my shoulders. We are forever grateful.
Written by Marilyn, Jacob’s mom
Please consider donating in Jacob’s honor to support PCFLV's mission.
Please also consider helping local kids with cancer by donating blood at Miller-Keystone Blood Center:
Photography by Matthew Cannon