PAULS VALLEY, Okla. (KFOR) – “Every day for me is an adventure. I’ll wake up and do something random,” says 18-year-old Jack Grimmett.
This teenager’s schedule is wide open a lot of the time.
It’s a far cry from his senior year at Pauls Valley High School where he was a star athlete for their football and track teams.
He was thrilled when he was recruited for the Air Force Academy football team in Colorado last spring.
Then, things went sideways.
“I started losing weight. People would come up to me, especially my coaches, and say you’re looking really thin,” says Jack.
His mother, Mylaine Grimmett agrees, “I was an assistant track coach and so I was watching him in throw up in practice.”
“It got to the point where I was bent over, hurting. I didn’t want to get up,” Jack adds.
With Air Force boot-camp looming, a new, unwelcome word entered the Grimmett household: rhabdomyosarcoma, a cancer involving muscle cells.
“What made me most upset was seeing my parents so upset” recalls Jack.
Dr. Ashley Baker from Jimmy Everest Cancer Center says, “He had pancreatitis so we think it started in his pancreas and he also had a lesion on his leg which they hadn’t thought much of. It hurt a bit but wasn’t causing him problems.”
Dr. Baker says Rhabdo requires an arsenal of treatments including chemotherapy, radiation, and often surgery.
In Jack’s case, “it’s really melted away, and we’re seeing little evidence of tumor anywhere” says Dr. Baker.
“I mean, I was in the best shape of my life. My body was able to take a blow, which helps a lot,” Jack says.
What Jack means is that once the knock-out punch from chemo-treatment subsides, he takes advantage of a window of time when he feels better.
“One time, it was 11 at night and I had a week off chemo, so I call my best friend and said, ‘Hey, let’s go to Colorado tomorrow’,” says Jack.
Of course, his parents always worry, but they say the steady guidance from Jimmy Everest staff has steadied their boat in these rocky waters.
“They take such good care, and you’re so overwhelmed, ‘can I do this and handle this?'” says Jack’s mom.
Jack nods his head in agreement. “I like coming here because the people are so nice, I love seeing some of these people every day.”
Rhabdomyosarcoma has one of the worst reputations among cancers, but for Jack and his family and his team, taking aim at each day as a hopeful adventure is paying off.