When Jacob was just three years old, he started having trouble keeping his dinner down every night. Concerned about the frequent vomiting, parents Alyssa and Ryan took him to the pediatrician. The doctor suspected that Jacob was having issues with reflux and prescribed an acid reducer. The medicine did little to help, and things started to get worse for Jacob. His parents noticed that he was becoming clumsier each day, and when he started having accidents, they took him back to the pediatrician. This time, the doctor dismissed the accidents as a potty training setback.
Jacob’s symptoms continued to worsen, and when he suddenly lost movement on the left side of his face, both the doctor and his parents realized something was seriously wrong. They headed to Vanderbilt for tests, and doctors found a tumor the size of a baseball in Jacob’s brain.
A few days later, he headed into surgery to remove the tumor.
On July 23, 2014, the family had an official diagnosis: ATRT brain cancer. ATRT stands for atypical teratoid rhabdoid tumor and is defined as a rare, fast-growing cancerous tumor of the brain and spinal cord. About half of these tumors begin in the cerebellum or brain stem.
Following the diagnosis, Jacob underwent two rounds of induction chemotherapy and three stem cell transplants. He spent approximately nine months in the hospital receiving treatment and recovering from the treatment side effects. He now has to wear hearing aids and experiences weakness on his left side as well as cognitive delays. “We are always challenged to ensure that he gets inclusive treatment and plan activities according to his abilities,” his parents shared.
Every child who has been diagnosed with childhood cancer inspires us to Rally On to find better treatments with fewer long-term side effects and, ultimately, cures. Please join us in the fight against childhood cancer by making a donation or setting up your own Rally fundraiser today.