Stepping into the confines of Nelson Field Sept. 20, Kyle resident Alyson Jackson was practically speechless.
No matter where you looked, from the field to the stands and just about everywhere in between, were green shirts, balloons, banners and so much more. All of it, worn by supporters, fans and athletes of Hays and Anderson high schools during their varsity football game, went toward supporting Jake Jackson, Alyson’s son, who a day later began his fight against high-level osteosarcoma, or bone cancer.
The moment hit home for Alyson, a single mother, who has dealt with the roller coaster of emotions following her son’s diagnosis.
And yet, amid all of the trial and tribulations they experienced, the Jackson family finally had reason to share tears of joy.
“I can’t believe I don’t have mascara all over my face tonight,” Alyson Jackson said. “This was so heart touching.”
The long road toward diagnosis
It was roughly a year ago that Jake’s ordeal began, Alyson said. During an outing at the river in the spring, Jake hit his shin, causing a small lump to develop on his leg.
Initially, Alyson thought the lump was a calcium deposit or perhaps scar tissue from the initial injury. Over time, however, the bump on Jake’s worsened. When school ended in May, Alyson took Jake to one doctor after another, with each physician unable to determine what the problem was.
Eventually, the Jacksons ended up visiting a cancer specialist, who informed them Jake had bone cancer.
“It didn’t hit me at first,” Jake said. “Then came the realization.”
Doctors suggested a biopsy, as well as recommended removing the mass. Over the summer, Jake had surgery to remove the lump, which had attached to his bone. Surgeons removed a part of his femur as well.
But their worst fears came true several days later when a tumor was found in the bone underneath where the initial lump had developed.
Over the next three-plus weeks after the surgery, Jake and Alyson visited sarcoma specialists across the country, wanting “complete concurrence” regarding the diagnosis. All agreed that Jake had high-level osteosarcoma and that he needed to go through chemotherapy.
“It blew our minds,” Alyson said. “But we know we’re going to fight it.”
Outpouring of support
Amid the turmoil, Jake and Alyson both have welcomed the outpouring of support from friends, family and even total strangers.
Jake said it has been “kind of weird” to receive so much attention, but he realizes it’s “love, it’s all love.”
Alyson said the support has helped Jake come to terms with his diagnosis. Initially, Alyson said her son experienced the gamut of emotions, ranging from fear to anger and everything in between.
“He’s getting it (support) because they love us and they care about us and they want to rally behind us,” Alyson said. “He’s getting better and he’s ready to fight. He’s gotten okay with that and he’s ready to do that.”
Providing support are Jake’s Hays teammates, who on Sept. 21 all wore green wristbands. Joining the team was the cheerleading squad, band, drill team and the Hays fanbase, who wore green with shirts that read “All in for Jake.” Green is Jake’s favorite color.
Soon, the Anderson High fanbase and team followed suit, too. Les Goad, Hays High head football coach, said the support all derives from a love of Jake and the desire to support him. His diagnosis also put “everything in perspective.”
“The important thing is for him to overcome this thing, to support and love him and give him all the support we can,” Goad said.
As Jake’s fight begins, Alyson holds on to faith. Jake is expected to go through 17 different chemotherapy treatments over the course of six months.
Even as her emotions have been “all over the page” for the past few months, Alyson said she is ready to support her son’s battle.
“I’m scared, but I have faith and God’s with us and we’re going to fight it and come out ahead,” Alyson said.
For Jake, the support from so many is fueling a determination to beat the disease.
“I’ve always told myself, ‘it’s life.’ God has a plan for me,” Jake said. “I’m just leaving it at that and seeing how it goes.”