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Jacob and his mother Danielle

The drive to survive

Jacob was just a baby when his parents learned he suffered from neuroblastoma. Now an avid golfer, Jacob visits St. Jude twice a year after finishing his treatment.

Poised and thoughtful, 12-year-old Jacob fixes his eyes on the tee in front of him. All around him, the crowd is hushed, waiting. Then, with a confident, decided swing, Jacob hits the golf ball resting on the tee and sends it sailing down the green.

The hush that falls upon a golf course is far different than the hush Jacob’s mom, Danielle, remembers more than 11 years ago, when she learned Jacob, just 3 months old at the time, had a cancerous tumor. “I was in the room with the doctors when the images from the CT scan came in,” Danielle said. “There’s that quiet hush across the room when you know something is wrong, because no one is saying anything.”


The test revealed Jacob suffered from a cancerous tumor known as neuroblastoma. His family was soon on their way to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, where doctors found the tumor was compressing Jacob’s spine, pushing it almost all the way over to one side. Jacob underwent surgery immediately to relieve the pressure on his spine. He then started chemotherapy.

Shortly after arriving at St. Jude, Jacob’s family learned they’d never receive a bill. Families never receive a bill from St. Jude for treatment, travel, housing or food — because all a family should worry about is helping their child live. “We were speechless,” Danielle said. “We could just focus on Jacob.”

Golf helps Jacob stay’s helped his self-confidence and it’s taught him to be part of a team.

Danielle, Jacob's mother

After several months of chemotherapy, Jacob finished treatment just before his first birthday. He visits St. Jude twice a year and is part of the After Completion of Therapy clinic.

Now in sixth grade, Jacob is an avid golfer. He plays on his middle school golf team and has won several local tournaments. He can often be found out on the local golf course with his stepfather and brothers. “Golf helps Jacob stay focused,” Danielle said. “It’s helped his self-confidence, and it’s taught him to be a part of team.”

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