Moore high school football player’s back pain diagnosed as leukemia

MOORE, Okla. - 16-year-old Zachary Shannon blends right in with the dodge ball crowd at Elevation Trampoline Park.

Zachary loves being active, and he loves sports, especially football. But his spot on the South Moore High School football team is on hold for now.

"They were doing weight lifting competitions at school, and he kept complaining of his back hurting," said Zachary's mother, Brittany Siddique.

She reflects on spring of 2018 when her son, who rarely complains about anything, was suddenly begging for medical help.

"I woke up in the middle of the night," Zachary recalls. "My whole body was aching and I couldn't go back to sleep, so I told my mom to take me the hospital."

Zachary eventually was referred to Jimmy Everest Center for Cancer where his diagnosis was acute lymphoblastic leukemia, or ALL.

"It's the most terrible thing I've ever heard in my life. It was just very, very shocking" said Brittany.

"I don't even know what I was thinking about the diagnosis. It was just crazy," Zachary adds.

"Zach has strength of character," said Pediatric oncologist Dr. Osman Khan. "He's really a wonderful young man."

He says Zachary's back pain was due to rapidly multiplying cancer cells in the bone marrow of his spine.

Fortunately, chemotherapy knocked out those cancer blasts. He's in remission, but there was exhaustion, nausea, and hospital stays on the road to recovery so far.

"Nothing is too hard" said Zachary, "but staying overnight in the hospital sucks."

His mother laughs at his teen-age assessment of cancer recovery so far, but agrees there have been hard struggles.

"We had a couple incidents of him falling down and all kinds of things happening, but he really did handle it so well," Brittany told News 4.

Chemotherapy can impact motor skills, so Zachary's ability to get back on the trampoline, or shooting hoops is really amazing.

He's learned to roll with all the medical appointments and medical requirements.

"Everybody here at Jimmy Everest Cancer Center has been amazing. We like them a lot," Brittany said.

"I fully expect him to regain those strengths and abilities and do what any normal teenager does in the summer," Dr. Khan said.

As Zachary and his friends toss the ball at Elevation, he takes a giant aerial leap toward the basketball goal. Let's hope his recovery is also a slam dunk.

If you'd like to help children like Zachary fight cancer, consider donating to JECFriends.org.

'Kids with Courage' is sponsored by the Jimmy Everest Center. 

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