by Anna Ertz (Burlington, IA)
Our Jackson at age 12 was diagnosed with TCELL Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia. It was on June 26, 2014 after not being able to breathe at soccer camp in our home town of Burlington Iowa that he was airlifted to Iowa City to the University of Iowa Children’s Hospital. After bone marrow testing and a spinal tap the next day, we received the actual diagnosis. From that moment on, our son was never the presumably healthy boy he was just a day before, nor would he be ever again.
Jackson was a patient on the PICU floor for the majority of his cancer journey. He was the most critical patient in the PICU for the entire time. Jackson’s cancer came on quick and strong and it came with a large cancerous mass of the lungs and airways. He was extremely sick from the beginning and never really had a good day.
Jackson never would leave the hospital. His cancer journey only lasted 47 days. He endured kidney, liver, and lung failure. He never gained white blood cells back after chemotherapy and infections were uncontrollable. The fluid in his body, especially lungs was always worrisome and the fluid never stopped building up, even after having continual renal therapy.
Blood products became his diet leaving him malnourished.
Chemotherapy killed his cancer but tore down his body so much that he could not come back from the damage.
Jackson never complained. He never got to see the lighter side of cancer. Jackson never got to leave the hospital and receive treatment as an outpatient.
Cancer changed our life twice within the summer of 2014. Once the day we went to Iowa City and the day he took his last breath.
We were a family that didn’t pay much attention to cancer before our sons diagnosis. We lived oblivious to the plan that God had for us. Never fully understood that kids get cancer too.