Wednesday, May 8, 2019 – Atkinson, NE. While the mission of the Team Jack Foundation remains to solely fund research and raise awareness for pediatric brain cancer, helping families affected by the disease connect with each other has become an important part of the Foundation. The ‘Team Jack Family’ was fatefully formed over the years as new families faced the diagnosis of a child with brain cancer. It has been helpful for families to be able to network with others that have faced similar hardships. Not only do these families connect and share their stories, they have also been vital in fundraising for the Foundation and spreading awareness for the disease.
“We still lean on our Team Jack Family today. Many families we met during treatment and even more as the years go on. Nobody needs to fight alone.” -Melissa Ostrander, mother of brain tumor survivor, Seth
Mostly, the 50-plus families that make up the Team Jack Family are from Nebraska and surrounding states. This past April, however, the Foundation was introduced to three families from the North Texas area at the 3rd Annual Team Jack Trifecta with Rex Burkhead. The Foundation was honored to meet the Layla Stamp, Cooper Anderson and Miranda Barnes families and help extend our network outside of the Midwest. Sadly, all three of these families have lost their children to the disease.
At the event, two of the families spoke about their children and the importance of raising awareness and research funds for pediatric brain cancer. They told about the pain they endure firsthand because of the loss of their children. What we learned that day is that for these three North Texas families there is not a network like the Team Jack Family to have as a resource and how important it is for families to have this outlet.
The past few months the need for a family network has been highlighted by two separate instances. The first was an email we received from a parent from the East Coast whose son had just been diagnosed with Glioblastoma Multiforme. When he searched his son’s tumor type online, one of the Team Jack Heroes pages came up. It was that of Jessica Gooder, who is a survivor of GBM. We were able to connect this father to Jessica’s parents so they could talk about what Jessica received for treatment and other details related to the disease.
The second instance was a case in which we saw a social media post of a North Carolina mother asking for help after her daughter was just diagnosed with brain cancer. She expressed her feelings of hopelessness and asked for advice in that area. We were able to message her and find out more about her daughter’s tumor type, then connect her with a parent of a child that had survived the same diagnosis.
Learning that your son or daughter has a brain tumor is one of the most devastating things you will ever hear in your life. While it is important to have a good medical team, it is just as important to have a reliable support system. This is why the Team Jack Family exists and while our sole mission will continue to be to fund research, the Team Jack families and all kids with brain cancer will always be our number one priority.
Pediatric brain cancer is considered a rare disease, however, brain tumors are the most common solid tumors affecting children and the number one cancer cause of death in children. There are over 100 different types of pediatric brain tumors, making diagnosis and treatments challenging. In addition, pediatric brain tumors are not like adults and require specific research and different treatments. There is so much more research that needs to be done on child brain tumors to understand what causes them, what treatments work best and more. Research that focuses specifically on pediatric brain tumors is crucial to saving children’s lives and improving survivors’ quality of life. This is why the Team Jack Foundation has made it their mission to solely focus on funding pediatric brain cancer research. We won’t stop fighting for kids.
If you know of a family that has been affected by pediatric brain cancer that may want to join the Team Jack Family for support please direct them to www.teamjackfoundation.org/familyresources.