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Young boy showing his muscles

Eight Years Cancer Free and Counting

Two weeks ago was Jackson’s annual cancer checkup. Eight years cancer free!

It’s been a year of homework, little league, grass cutting and bike riding. He’s learned the pre-teen glare and can serve a major attitude when he doesn’t want to do something. Jackson can nail a one liner and, at 10, recognize when his mom needs a hug and a deep breath.

He’s growing up. Doing what kids are supposed to do.

But once a year, there’s this day where Jackson will sit with his feet touching the floor, his eyelashes, eyebrows and full head of hair, curiously studying a child across the waiting room that is his polar opposite. Nine years ago, he was that sweet little toddler with a slick head, wearing a facemask and gray skin on his slight frame.

They’re really not all that different, though.

Both of their names will be called. Jackson will get all his vitals and blood work done, too. They both have fought an adult fight; just one of them is still on active duty. Jackson’s nearly a decade out from his battle, and the little one looking back with mischievous eyes will have his sword drawn for a while longer.

Jackson’s annual checkups have changed over the years.

He doesn’t have CT or MIBG scans like he did the first five years. It took me a long time to be okay with not scanning him anymore. When he finished treatment in the spring of 2010, we followed up every 3 months and those clear scans were a great reassurance. Eventually we moved to every 6 months. Then once a year.

As a 5+ year cancer survivor, Jackson now attends a survivor clinic called IMPACT (INdividuals Thriving After Cancer Treatment). It’s a team approach to his follow-up care. An interdisciplinary group of healthcare professionals will follow him and address any issues he has in regards to his treatment until he turns 25. With cancer survivors, issues may come up as they age and range from heart function to anxiety or infertility.

The appointments take a good part of an afternoon. He has one-on-one talks with a nurse, social worker, dietician, oncologist and education coordinator. It’s a long, but thorough visit.

Jackson, thankfully, gained another clean bill of health and we’re back to math and ground balls.

Weeks later, though, I can’t help but think about the little guy across the waiting room…and hoping training wheels and preschool are just around the corner for him, too.

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About Jessica Woolwine

About Jessica   Woolwine Jessica Woolwine is a native of Hampton Roads and lives in Hampton with her three “miracles” Jackson (9), Abby (5) and Henry (1). As a mother to a childhood cancer survivor and a micro-preemie, she began the blog Mothering Miracles in 2014 to support other families dealing with health issues. Jessica also works as Creative Director for Rubin Communications Group and enjoys mixing her talents for graphic design and creative writing with community relations. She is a past member of both the CHKD Family Advisory Council and the CHKD NICU Family Advisory Council.