A mother has revealed how her healthy young son came home from nursery one day with a simple limp which led to a devastating cancer diagnosis.
Jaimee Thompson said her son Jack was “just like any other boundary-pushing three-year-old” and loved dolphins, the color yellow and watching “old school” cartoons Scooby Doo and The Smurfs.
The mother, from Freshwater on Sydney’s northern beaches, said there were no signs anything was wrong with Jack until the sudden limp he developed in April 2023.
Jaimee and Jack’s father took him to the doctors to have his lameness and subsequent fever examined, but were told not to worry too much as there were no other symptoms.
“The doctors thought it was just a virus he caught at daycare, so he went through a couple of rounds of antibiotics and probably lasted a couple of weeks,” Ms. Thompson told Yahoo News.
“Winter was approaching and a lot of things were happening. They did some x-rays and the doctors told us not to worry.
The couple took Jack home but in the following weeks, despite antibiotics, he did not improve.
Jack (pictured left) with his mother Jaimee, brother Ted and father Trent was diagnosed with neuroblastoma.
His mother said she had no idea anything was wrong until Jack suddenly started limping.
Thompson said that one night she heard Jack screaming from his bed and went in to ask him if he had had a nightmare, but he replied “no, I’m hurting mom.”
An ambulance was called and Jack was admitted to the hospital.
Mrs. Thomspon said that just three weeks after first noticing the limp, four doctors came into our room to inform us that our bear had stage IV cancer. Neuroblastoma’.
“While Jack played, swam, slept, laughed and hugged, his nerve cells had not matured properly, resulting in a tumor the size of a tangerine that grew near his adrenal gland and kidney,” he said in GoFundMe.
“From there it spread to the lymph nodes, bone marrow and bones, from the top of her beautiful head to her toes.”
In May 2023, Jack began what his mother said was “one of the most grueling treatment protocols a child can endure.”
Jack spent six months in the hospital undergoing eight rounds of chemotherapy, an eight-hour surgery, a bone marrow transplant and 12 rounds of radiation.
He has undergone six months of grueling treatment in the hospital that includes chemotherapy and radiation.
He is now recovering, but the cancer has a 50 percent chance of returning.
She said the ordeal left him with side effects including loss of fine motor skills, reduced eyesight and infertility.
However, he has responded well to treatment and has had all but a few remaining cancer cells removed from his bone marrow.
The irrepressible boy will have to spend another six months in hospital to receive immunotherapy treatment aimed at eliminating the remaining cancer cells.
‘Despite this success, the hard truth is that neuroblastoma has a 50 percent relapse rate. And if Jack relapses, his chances of survival plummet to just 5 percent,” said Mrs. Thompson.
There are currently two new FDA-approved therapies in the United States targeting neuroblastoma: DFMO and a bivalent vaccine.
They are the standard therapy in the United States and have been shown to halve the risk of relapse, but they will not be available in Australia for another two years.
DFMO (difluoromethylornithine) works by limiting the ability of cancer cells to produce the polyamines they need to grow and spread, according to the Children’s Cancer Institute.
The bivalent vaccine trains the body’s immune system to recognize and eliminate cancer cells that may be “lurking” in the body after chemotherapy, according to Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center.
Thompson has launched a GoFundMe asking for help accessing “at least one of these medications.”
Couple appeal for help to fund trips to US for life-saving treatment – Jack with brother Ted
“Your generosity will be used to cover the cost of medication and other hospital requirements such as scans and bone marrow aspirations, as well as flights to the US and accommodation while we are there,” Mrs Thompson wrote.
Jack will need to take the therapy for two years starting in mid-August, which will require six visits to the US.
‘They say it takes a village to raise a child. Thank you for being part of the Jack Jack people. “We can’t do this without you,” he said.