Angels Among Us 2024

Jack's Back Pack

Please help us in our effort to raise funds for the Preston Robert Tisch Brain Tumor Clinic at Duke University. The incredible doctors and staff at Duke helped our family navigate the diagnosis and treatment of Jack's spinal tumors, and for that we are forever grateful.

Whether you want to participate in the 5k or donate directly, every bit helps.

All proceeds go directly towards research and clinical trials of brain and spinal tumors.

Jack's Story:
For over a year, Jack dealt with ever-increasing back problems. It started as a dull and constant ache, then gradually shifted to stronger and sharper pains that made everyday tasks a challenge. At one point, even lying in bed was too uncomfortable, and Jack started sleeping in a recliner at night in search of relief.
Physical Therapy wasn't helping, nothing looked out of place on X-Rays, and Jack was already taking the maximum dosage of OTC pain medication. Finally, in May 2022, Jack was approved for an MRI and we found the problem... actually, two problems. Located on the lower spinal cord were two separate masses. These tumors were pressing directly on their nerves, causing the pain in their back and legs. Known as myxopapillary ependymomas, these are rare tumors of the central nervous system. Based on their size and the severity of Jack’s symptoms, surgery was the recommended course of action. Of course, all this happened when their wife was 8 months pregnant with their first child. The doctor advised that the surgery could wait a few months to aid in the transition to a family of three.
In September 2022, Jack underwent an eight-hour osteoplastic laminoplasty to remove the masses (and put them back together again!). The surgery was a success, even with one of the tumors really tangled in the nerves; big shoutout to Dr. Goodwin and his team for their hard work. After surgery came the challenges of re-learning how to walk and move safely while recovering
Nothing is ever simple, and approximately two weeks after surgery, Jack ended up in the emergency room with a cerebrospinal fluid leak and was readmitted to the hospital. The tear was not healing on its own, which meant another surgery was required to remove the laminae of the lower vertebrae and repair the dura mater surrounding the spinal cord. The recovery process after the second surgery was even more difficult, but the occupational therapists, physical therapists, nurses, and doctors at Duke helped every step of the way.
In order to have the best chances of keeping the tumors from recurring, about a month after surgery, Jack received radiation treatment five days a week for six weeks. On December 6, 2022, they rang the bell to celebrate the completion of the treatment!

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