Have you noticed an unusual number of bald children around Effingham County? You may be wondering, “What’s that all about?”
They are part of “Team Jake.” When their fellow classmate began losing his hair due to chemotherapy, these friends wanted to show their support by shaving their heads, or cutting their hair to donate to “Locks of Love.”
“On Feb. 8, 2011, our lives changed forever,” said Kathryn Trainor. “I was taking our son Jake to the doctor’s office for a few swollen lymph nodes and a mild fever. He had been more tired lately and wasn’t as hungry as you would expect a 12-year-old boy to be. Just the week before, he had been running down the basketball court with our middle school boys team, in a competitive game against another Savannah private school.
“Our very astute doctor noticed something ‘not quite right’ and ordered a CBC (complete blood count) there in the office. Jake’s white cell count was ‘over the top’ and he was anemic. She said, ‘I don’t mean to alarm you, but you need to go to the hospital immediately.’ With great sorrow she told us that all the signs pointed to childhood leukemia.”
The Trainors were immediately admitted to the hematology/oncology unit at Memorial Hospital. The doctors were astounded at the size of the mass of leukemia cells they found in Jake’s chest.
“They kept asking, ‘Are you sure you aren’t having any difficulty breathing?’” Kathryn Trainor said. “The mass was pushing on his lungs and had compressed his heart. We thanked God for the many sports he had played at school over the last few months (track, soccer, and basketball), which had made his lungs amazingly strong. It was as though God had prepared him for the battle he was about to fight.”
The younger Trainor was diagnosed with T-Cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia. It is a cancer of the blood that begins in the bone marrow and travels throughout the entire body. The leukemia cells are aggressive and strong. The fight against them includes intensive chemotherapy and radiation over a long period of many years.
“Jake’s body has responded well so far, which is a tremendous relief for the moment,” Kathryn Trainor said. “Cancer has turned our world upside down. There are weekly, and sometimes daily, trips to Savannah for treatment. Jake can’t attend school nor be around crowds of people, because his immune system is compromised and a simple cold will send him into the hospital. Jake has needed to receive blood transfusions to boost his body’s ability to keep taking the chemo.”
One way that you can make a difference is to give blood. There will be a blood drive in Jake’s honor on April 30 from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. at Effingham Christian School, located at 226 Goshen Rd. in Rincon. You can call the school, 826-3327, or visit their Web site, www.EffinghamChristian.org, for more information. You can read more about Jake’s journey and keep up with his progress on his Caring Bridge website, http://www.caringbridge.org/visit/jaketrainor.