Diagnosed in 2015 at 20 years old; passed away in October 2020. Lived in New Mexico.
Written by Jackson’s Mom, Barbara, in late 2015.
Jackson is/was a healthy average 20 year old young man. He loves soccer and chemistry. Everything changed in March 2015. In retrospect, you cast back and think, “was there any sign at all that something was amiss?” But there really was no indication Jackson was sick. On March 6th, I was getting ready for lecture, when Jackson came out of his room and said he had a horrible pain in his upper middle abdomen. Jackson’s pretty tough so I paid attention. I canceled my lecture and we went to the ER. There, they gave him pain meds, I called his Dad and brother, and we all gathered at the ER. At first, the docs thought he had an ulcer, or perhaps severe acid reflux. They did an ultrasound, and found nothing definitive. They did a CT scan, and I still remember, I was holding Jackson’s hand (he was in a lot of pain) when the doc said, “you have a large mass in your liver”.
I think all of us were stricken with dread.
Las Cruces is not a large city. Luckily there was an alert internist (Dr. Rhinehold) who insisted we immediately go to the Mayo Clinic in Phoenix, instead of allowing any sort of biopsy/surgery in Las Cruces. He felt we needed to be at a facility that was capable of liver transplant. We went to Mayo (Dad, Jackson, and myself). Gabriel had to stay at home to hold down the fort, three dogs and a cat.
The news just kept getting worse and worse. At the Mayo Clinic we were told Jackson was not eligible for a transplant, because there was a second mass (of which we were unaware), that was likely metastasized lymph nodes around the vena cava. There was even talk it might not be resectable. But luckily Dr. Adyr Moss felt he could do it.
On March 23rd, Dr. Moss removed 13 lymph nodes (5 positive for FHCC), and one liver tumor 11.5 cm in the greatest dimension and shaped like a baked potato. He removed the entire right lobe, or 60% of the liver. Jackson’s FHCC is considered “stage III”. I don’t need to tell any of you that the next few weeks were rough. But eventually Jackson fully recovered from surgery and even managed to successfully finish his semester at college. Today we are 5-6 months out with “cancer-free” scans and we just pray the good news continues.