Christmas Eve 2014 wasn’t the normal celebration for Mack’s family. Instead, he was flown by air ambulance to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. Five-year-old Mack had been in a local hospital for a month, and he hadn’t been able to move in weeks.
In the fall of 2014, Mack experienced leg pain that doctors initially thought was the result of a bone infection. A month passed before tests revealed the pain in his leg was actually caused by a type of bone cancer called Ewing sarcoma. He was referred for treatment at St. Jude, where doctors often send their toughest cases, because St. Jude has the world’s best survival rates for some of the most aggressive childhood cancers.
“We took a big leap of faith and just came,” explained Amanda, Mack’s mom. “Getting here on a holiday, St. Jude didn’t wait. They started that night trying to make him better. They didn’t wait, and to me that just shows how much they care about the kids here.”
Mack’s treatment at St. Jude has included chemotherapy. He underwent surgery this August, during which his right leg was amputated above the knee, and he was fitted with a prosthetic.
“Mack has the best doctors and nurses,” said Amanda. “He never complains and he’s always happy. He laughs all the time.”
After his surgery, Mack was walking again in no time. He even showed his favorite team, the Memphis Grizzlies, a thing or two on the basketball court during their recent visit to St. Jude. Mack is now 6 years old, and his latest scans show there’s no evidence of disease.
In 2015, Amanda hopes the family will be home, all together again, for Christmas. Mack is still undergoing extensive physical therapy as part of his treatment at St. Jude. “Spending the day together as a family is something we will never take for granted,” Amanda said. “And whenever we do get together, it’s always a party.”