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Kid Cancer Survivor Cooks Up Dreams

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Guest Blogger Lisa: "Having a 2 year old boy and an infant son, I felt life was happy and full. Little did I know that my life and my family's was about to change forever."

jack witherspoon.png

Jack, my 2 year old, had been acting unusually cranky and was extremely pale. Instead of taking him to his afternoon swim lesson, my husband and I decided to have him checked out by our pediatrician. That evening we got the call, Jack's white blood counts were way off, they were pretty sure he had leukemia and we were to go to the hospital immediately!

Jack had (ALL) Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia. This is a type of leukemia that usually strikes children between the ages of four and nine; it is considered the most treatable type of leukemia and although the treatment is intense and long (three years and three months for boys) most children do survive and are cured. So, life went from play dates and swim lessons to hospital stays, chemo infusions and endless doctor's appointments. We were fighting for Jack's life now; it took everything I had in me to stay strong and not let Jack know how worried I was.

With the support of our friends and family, we made it through the long course of treatment. The doctors were quite confident that Jack would be cured now; we just had to get through the next five years with no relapse to be given the full clean bill of health. One year out of treatment, almost to the day, Jack's leukemia came back. It was as though someone had knocked the wind out of me. It was the worst thing that could have happened! The treatment this time would be many times stronger -- having many more hospital stays with about half as good a chance of being cured. Because of his weakened immune system, Jack could no longer go to school or play with friends.

It was during one of the many days he spent at the hospital that he became intrigued by the Food Network. It didn't take long for Jack to realize his passion; some day when he grew up he wanted to become a chef.

With the help of my friend and restaurant owner, Paul Hennessey, we were able to make Jack's dream come true. Last year my family and I organized a fundraiser entitled, "Cooking up Dreams." Jack was the guest "chef" -- all the proceeds would benefit the research department at Miller Children's Hospital in Long Beach, the hospital where Jack has received all of his treatment. The event was a huge success! We had 330 people attend with net proceeds of over $36,000.

This December 3rd we will be putting on another "Cooking up Dreams" event. Jack is eight years old now, in complete remission, back in school and playing with his friends again. Just weeks after the event takes place ,Jack will end his leukemia treatments. He is strong and healthy now; we have great faith that Jack will be cured this time.

If you live in the Los Angeles area and would like to attend Jack's event at H.T. Grill in Redondo Beach on December 3rd you can go to on line registry, click on events calendar at . If you are unable to attend this event, but would like to donate to the fight against childhood cancer click here.

Check back next week to watch our footage and interview with Jack at the "Cooking Up Dreams" event.

next: "The Real Housewives of OC": They're Baaaaack!
11 comments so far | Post a comment now
M.L. November 26, 2008, 3:25 PM

What an inspiring story! Thank you for sharing it. I hope and pray that he stays in remission.

Mellie December 9, 2008, 3:58 PM

Hurray for Jack! I hope to eat a meal he has prepared one day. I am so proud of him and thank God for the wonderful things that he will make of his life.

Pam December 9, 2008, 4:05 PM

What a testimony of strength and faith and what an awesome young man.

basketpam December 9, 2008, 6:29 PM

What a great kid! I hope only the very best for him.

Doug December 9, 2008, 6:36 PM

Way to go Jack….very inspiring….I too am a cancer survivor (AML) however I’m 55 years old….keep strong..God Bless.

elizabeth December 9, 2008, 6:53 PM

Hey cutie way to go!!!! I sdmire your determination,spirit, courage and love Little guy you are the great teacher and the rest of us just little students waiting to hear what you say next cook up a storm Love Me oxoxoxoxoxoxox

eileen December 9, 2008, 7:04 PM

wow u made me cry im a two time survivor hodgkins and cant stand to hear about childhood cancer god bless . I will be watching for you in a few years on the food network!

Karen December 9, 2008, 7:43 PM

Hope you get your cookbook published, I would love to purchase one or ten!! Keep up the good work and stay well.

What a great kid!

Patti December 9, 2008, 9:07 PM

What an awesome story. I love cookbooks and think it would be a great idea to try to get someone to publish a cookbook of Jacks favorite recipes and use it to raise more money for research

Ten Tees January 8, 2011, 7:06 PM

Good information! Nice to read. There is a small thing to submit about shirts.

Pharmd802 April 6, 2011, 11:37 AM

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