Welcome to our CaringBridge website. We are using it to keep family and friends updated in one place.
This is the story of our son, Jake ( a 21 year old college senior majoring in physical education with a health emphasis with aspirations of becoming a middle school Physical Education teacher and maybe coaching a sport or two some day),
In October of 2021, while home to participate in the ACS Making Strides Against Breast Cancer walk to celebrate his mother (the author here) and her triumph over Breast Cancer - Jake mentioned that he was experiencing chest pain and that his heart rate was elevated up to the 150's to 160's without effort or reason (thank you Apple Watch for the information - some day we will contact Apple to tell his story....). Despite him wanting to return to school, we decided that a trip to the emergency room was in order to alleviate his mother's worries. In the emergency room, his heart rate had settled down and after a chest x-ray it was decided that he had a possible pneumonia and costochondritis. He was started on antibiotics, instructed to use Motrin for pain and sent on his way - with recommendations to have the chest xray repeated in 6 to 8 weeks.
Fast forward to December - over his winter break - Jake established care with an adult primary physician and underwent a physical to include a repeat chest x ray. The concerning spot on his chest xray was found to still be there so the recommendation at that time was to get additional imaging. Jake underwent a CAT scan on December 19th and the imaging revealed an anterior mediastinal mass (the mediastinum is the area between your lungs by your heart and esophagus). Luckily, I have 'connections in the health care world' and made a few phone calls. It was decided that Jake should see a thoracic surgeon and on December 21st we met with one. You can imagine our surprise when the concern for an oncologic process was discussed - the possibilities of thyroid cancer, testicular cancer and lymphoma were all put on the list (as well as the possibility of benign tissues related to his thymus gland or maybe even an infectious/inflammatory process). At that point, recommendations for a fine needle aspiration biopsy were made and that was completed on 12/29/21. We waited with much anxiety for the results - which were unfortunately inconclusive by 2 different pathology labs. The thoracic tumor board met to discuss the results and the recommendation was made for Jake to undergo a PET scan and surgical biopsy to obtain more tissue. The PET scan was completed which revealed hypermetabolic activity (which is associated with cancer ) around his known mass and by his spleen as well. On February 11th, Jake underwent a surgical biopsy and the surgeon was able to get better visualization of the mass. Again we waited for some answers as to what the mass was - and on February 16th, while at school, Jake received the news that the sample revealed Classic Hodgkin's Lymphoma (some day I will vent about how he found out but that doesn't matter right now....). After a few phone calls, a telehealth visit (as Jake is trying to do everything to complete his last semester on campus prior to student teaching in the fall) with an oncologist was scheduled for 2/17/21. It was at this visit, that yes in fact we found out that Jake has stage 3A Classic Hodgkin's Lymphoma - after a long couple of months filled with fear of the unknown and lots sleepless nights - we had an answer and a plan was developed for treatment.
Looking forward, most importantly, we have learned that this disease is very treatable and curable and that is what we are trying to focus on !!!
In the next few weeks, as it was decided to let Jake spend as much time as a normal college kid and stay on campus as long as possible, Jake will be undergoing additional testing to obtain more information on the status of his disease and procedures in preparation for starting chemotherapy. As of now, he will be starting his treatments on Friday, March 11th (during his senior spring break) with hopes of being able to return to campus between treatments so as to finish his on campus learning. The treatment consists of 6 cycles of chemotherapy - and each cycle has 4 medicines given every 2 weeks so without complications we anticipate he will be done by mid August (a total of 12 doses). He will have a PET scan after the second cycle at which time depending on his body's response to treatment we are hopeful that they will be able to take away one of the chemotherapy medications.
Thus far, Jake and our family, have had amazing support from family and friends. His fraternity (Kappa Sigma at ISU) have ordered purple wrist bands to show support and will help us all to remember that we are #FRIEDS STRONG !!!! (If anyone wants one, let me know......). His lifelong and new friends have been there for him as well and our family of course is supporting him (and allowing him to dictate how and when he wants information dispersed and to whom and some additional special surprises as well). As a family, we have also received many messages of support - please know that we are processing the information and may not always be able to answer but are SO appreciative of all of the good wishes and prayers coming Jake's way.
I (being Mom) plan to use this site to keep people updated on the process and progress. I have added Stephanie and Jake as co-authors so that they can also update the site - after all this is Jake’s story to tell.
We know that the road ahead may be rough but are hopeful that Jake will tolerate treatment well.
We appreciate your support and words of hope and encouragement. Thank you for visiting.