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My 8 year-old hero

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When you meet 8 year-old Jacob Lowe he seems like every other young child. He’s full of energy and moves around the room, scanning it with curious eyes. He sits upright in his chair when you speak with him and his face brightens like a Christmas tree when he begins his answers.

Ask him about the Karate training he engages in at Turner’s Studio, under the direction of B.J. Turner, and he’ll tell you that he’s already earned a blue belt and will soon have a purple one. Then he’ll tell you all the belts (steps) up the ladder that he needs to become a black belt.

How many kids would choose math as their favorite subject? Jacob, starting his 3rd grade at Forest Vista Elementary, blithely explains some of the math problems he enjoys handling. “I can do math really good. I took a piece of paper and turned it sideways and put more than 30 digits on it and added it up.” His mom said when he was in first grade he asked her to print up table charts because he wanted to memorize multiplications. He also likes swimming at the Lakeside Aquatic Club and other athletic activity.

The only possible way you could know that Jacob is a cancer survivor is for his mom to tell you about his 3-year struggle with leukemia. Katie Lowe, a Flower Mound resident and mother of two, was shocked four years ago when told her son had to undergo chemotherapy to fight off the disease that struck him suddenly.

At 4 years of age he had what they thought was a little virus. His pediatrician did blood work and discovered that his white blood cell count was really low.  He was sent to Children’s Medical Center (CMC) in Dallas where he underwent a bone marrow biopsy and a spinal tap. He was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (A.L.L.), a fast-growing cancer of the white blood cells which crowds out bone marrow, preventing it from making the normal red and white blood cells and platelets the body needs to maintain a healthy immune system. 

“From the time when he first felt sick, to a diagnosis of leukemia was less than a week,” said his mom. “In this particular type of cancer there is no tumor in the body to remove, it’s in his blood. So there are no stages; it is just acute. Chemotherapy began soon after the diagnosis. Even though he went into remission after about a week, we still had to treat all those years because if there was any single blast or cell in his body and we didn’t get rid of it, it would come back. So that’s why it had to be so long,” she added. “It was just over 3 years of treatment, which he finished last October. The first six months of the chemo was the heaviest; the last 2 ½ was on maintenance chemo.”

Jacob spent over three years of his young life undergoing a series of IV infusions, x-rays, blood draws, shots and port accesses, as well as CAT scans and ultrasounds at Dallas’ CMC. He has had blood and platelet transfusions, spinal taps, four to five bone marrow biopsy/aspirate and several medi-port surgeries. Yet, to talk with this bright blue-eyed little guy, with an ear-to-ear smile, you’d never imagine that this happy and friendly little boy had gone through so much.

He sat alongside his mother and spoke about his feelings during the time of his treatment for A.L.L.  “Sometimes it was lonely because I couldn’t see my friends,” Jacob said, with a slight shoulder shrug. (Because his immune system was weak during the treatments, it was risky to expose him to other kids.) Nevertheless, throughout all the other issues he endured, such as pneumonia and asthma, as well as having been on chemo, he acted like any other 8 year-old, eager to go out and play. 

Jacob is a cub scout in Pack 392 (Bears), loves reading and riding his bike, and swimming.  He told us how much he enjoys building things with Lego Blocks, including Death Star, a Star Wars edifice which he put together with 3100 Lego blocks. When I asked this straight-A student what he wanted to be when he grows up, given all that talent he has for math, he surprisingly said he wants to be a chef. Then, he proceeded to tell me about his prowess in the kitchen. “I make delicious chocolate chip cookies, waffles, smoothies, pizzas and I can decorate sugar cookies,” he said, quickly adding with a joyous smile, “and I love ice cream!” Jacob once made breakfast burritos with salsa during a cooking class at CMC. 

Katie and John Lowe live in Flower Mound with Jacob and their 5-year-old daughter Gracie. They are both Texas natives, growing up in Lewisville. She went to SMU. After college in 2003 they bought their first home. John Lowe works for a healthcare company, which was a Godsend because they had an excellent plan that covered a lot of Jacob’s treatments.

The Lowe’s want to remind everyone that September is Child Cancer Awareness Month. Some of the charities they support are: Parents Against Childhood Cancer (PAC2), Cure Search, Alex’s Lemonade, St. Baldricks, Wipe Out Kids Cancer – non childhood cancer specific: Hope Kids and Make-A-Wish.  

What I noticed during this interview was the healthy open communication between mother and son as this issue was discussed. Jacob has been through a lot, but he’s also learned a lot and, thanks to the positive attitude from his mom, he’s handled it with courage and a winning smile that seems to say, ‘I’m more than a cancer survivor; I’m a young man with plan for a happy and healthy future.’ Jacob is also an avid reader and I expect that he’s reading this right now. So, I just want to say, Jacob, you are my hero!

Bob Weir is a long-time Flower Mound resident and former local newspaper editor. In addition, Bob has 7 published books that include “Murder in Black and White,” “City to Die For,” “Powers that Be,” “Ruthie’s Kids,” “Deadly to Love,” “Short Stories of Life and Death” and “Out of Sight,” all of which can be found on Amazon.com and other major online bookstores.

 

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