When 16 year old Jack Harris began to feel unwell in the summer of 2019 – neither he nor his family had any idea of what was to come. Jack, who has been profoundly deaf since birth, underwent tests and to everyone’s disbelief he was diagnosed with cancer. The treatment involved a bone marrow transplant, weeks of isolation in hospital during the COVID crisis and no guarantee of success.
“I’d never really thought about cancer and now it was happening to me. I was going to college to study, looking forward to doing normal teenage things and suddenly everything was all a bit scary,” said Jack.
Jack’s older brother Joe turned out to be a match and agreed to donate his bone marrow. He was about to start a course in business studies at Portsmouth University. However, Joe didn’t join in the usual Fresher week activities to keep himself fit and healthy for the transplant which took place in the mid November.
Jack was admitted to the Teenage Cancer Trust
Unit at the University Hospital of Wales in Cardiff. As his dad, Will, explains. “I had never heard of Myelodysplasia and suddenly it is in your life. You go into the unit twice a day to see your son and it completely consumes you. You put on gowns and masks before entering a sterile room to spend time with your very sick child.
Hoping and trusting that the transplant would work. The medical teams do extraordinary work for the teenagers and their parents. They got us all through this.”
There were set backs along the way, more treatment was needed and Jack and his family were all too aware that not every young patient in the unit got to go home.
Jack did get to leave and while not yet cured, his life is slowly returning to normal and he’s back at college. By a twist of fate he was in the Teenage Cancer Unit when he met Nick Jones, who was being treated for a rugby ball shaped tumour. Nick’s mother, Lisa, was Jack’s deaf signing support teacher. The two quickly became friends and when Nick announced he was doing the London Landmarks Half Marathon on Sunday, 3 April, to raise money for the Teenage Cancer Trust, Jack was determined to join him as well.
“Nick has been such an inspiration to me and while I haven’t really run before, I wanted to do something to support him and at the same time to help the trust. I want to give back to the doctors and nurses who saved my life and while I can never truly repay them, this way I am doing something,” said Jack.
He is now in training after being given the green light by his consultant Dr Wendy Ingram. “I want to do something and inspired by Nick I have found a way of raising money for the trust. I am not sure that I will be able to keep up with him on the route, however, I am determined to do my best. And you never know this could be the start of my fundraising adventure for the Teenage Cancer Trust – I really hope so. They are all amazing and I want to thank them for what they did for me – and are doing for teenagers like me every day of the year.”
Jack’s treatment is ongoing and if you would like to support him in raising money for the Teenage Cancer Trust please follow and share his journey on Facebook
or on Twitter
. You can also donate here.
Thank you for reading – please share.