Jacob Bannister Jacob's Healing Journey

First post: Jun 28, 2021 Latest post: Jul 18, 2022
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Jacob is a sports-loving, Lego-obsessed, funny and laid-back 14-year-old kid.  He is also a huge baseball fan, especially for his Atlanta Braves.  Any opportunity he can get to go to a Braves game, he will jump at, whether the seats are behind home plate or way up in the nose bleed section, he's just happy to be there.  Jacob is big brother to Benjamin, 12, and Madeline, 10, who both look up to him and also annoy him, as siblings tend to do.  Even though their ages are fairly close, Jacob has always been twice their size, which can be intimidating to them at times, but mostly is used to be their protector.  Not just for his siblings, but also their best friends who are like cousins, Graham, 9, and Felicity, 11.  Our little crew does life together, and Jacob is the strong and steady leader of the pack.

On Sunday, April 11, 2021, one week after his 13th birthday, Jacob began complaining to me (his mom) of nausea and exhaustion.  My first thought was that it was a stomach bug and likely to make it's way through my family.  That did not happen, however, and Jacob's symptoms became more numerous and concerning.  Over the next few days, Jacob became more and more nauseous, lethargic, began having stomach pains, joint pains, headache, night sweats and had developed a constant, low grade fever.  I contacted his pediatrician and they got him in very quickly.  I had a strong mama-bear sense that my boy was very sick.   Upon running a blood test, the doctor discovered that he was anemic and also very dehydrated.  Out of an abundance of caution, she sent us to the emergency room at Children's Healthcare of Atlanta at Scottish Rite.   After running several more tests, and giving him two bags of fluid for hydration, it was assumed he had a virus of some sort and we were sent home to rest and wait for test results.  Jake improved after fluids, and while I was still unsettled by all his symptoms, I felt comfortable about taking him home.  

A few days later, the test results came back as negative for all the viruses they checked him for.  Meanwhile, no one else in our family was even remotely sick.  I became further concerned that this was more that just a virus.  However, over the next week, Jacob slowly began gaining his strength and appetite back.  At a checkup with his pediatrician, they were concerned that he had lost a considerable amount of weight in the last 2 weeks, however.  It was encouraging that he was beginning to feel better, but we were told to come back the following week if he was not 100%.  Five days later, he woke me up at 1:00am feeling sick and he had a 104.3 fever.  His fever went down with Tylenol and cold cloth over the next couple hours.  That morning, after his brother and sister went to school, I took him straight to the pediatrician, knowing in my gut that something was very wrong.  The pediatrician ran more blood tests and this time his blood count was extremely out of balance.  He was extremely anemic and had almost no white blood cells.  We were urgently sent back to Scottish Rite, where an Oncology Specialist was waiting for us.  

There was almost no hope given to us that this was not cancer.  His blood results pointed directly to leukemia.  Jacob was admitted to the Aflac Cancer and Blood Disorder unit at Scottish Rite that evening.  Tests were ordered to check specifically for leukemia.  The following day, the results came back confirming our fears,  B-Cell Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia.   The next week was a whirlwind of more tests, procedures, chemo, and a revolving door of specialists and consults.   There were so many moments of shock, tears, and fear, however there were also so many moments of gratitude and awe.  God had directed our path to an amazing children's hospital where Jacob was thoroughly loved and cared for by doctors, staff and his wonderful nurses.   Each day we have been amazed by Jacob's strength, bravery and sense of humor in the face of this battle.  We never know what the future holds, but we can rest in the knowledge that Christ Jesus holds the future.

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