Jackson had a rough entry into this world. He was born very prematurely – 25 weeks – and weighed only 1 pound, 8 ounces. But he proved he was a fighter back then, and now at 14, he has had to prove he’s a fighter again. A year ago last February, he started having chronic sinus infections and sounded very stuffy when he talked. And something else odd: he started snoring. Loudly.
After a bunch of appointments and tests, doctors told his parents that it could be nasopharyngeal carcinoma. This was a stunning diagnosis, especially given that another boy about the same age, living in the same county, had recently been diagnosed with the same rare disease. Guess who it was? Team Summer kid Eli (in the red shirt below)!
Remember, he’s the one who got the gigantic paddle board from Team Summer kid Chandler. It was rare enough to have one kid with this diagnosis, but two?
Jackson’s mother told us that when the families met at the hospital, their friendship meant so much to them because she had “so many questions and an overwhelming amount of fear.” It turns out that Jackson’s cancer was later re-diagnosed as a form of lymphoma. But the boys were already bonded in their fight.
Once Eli had become a Team Summer kid, he knew right away that he wanted to make Jackson one, too! Because all Team Summer gifts are a surprise, Jackson had no idea what Eli was planning!
But he did notice that Eli had a gift tucked under his arm!
Every kid with cancer faces days cooped up in the hospital with nothing to do. But when Jackson opened Eli’s gift, he knew it would help with hospital boredom a lot! A Playstation 4!
Eli also got him the video game Call of Duty and a controller. Jackson can now play games online remotely with his friends. As a kid who has gone through cancer treatements himself, Eli knows how important it is to be able to stay in touch with your friends while you are sick. And maybe, if you are lucky, you might even forget you have cancer for awhile.
Recently, Jackson got some GREAT news! After multiple rounds of chemo, he has gotten a clean bill of health! And he just started his freshman year of high school. In the picture below, he’s with his sister headed off for the first day. See how his hair is already growing back?? Have a wonderful year, Jackson!
Many thanks to those of you who donate to Team Summer and make gifts like Jackson’s possible. You are really making a difference in these kids’ lives!
And a special thanks to photographer Katie Atwell for taking these great pics! We so appreciate you!!!