Jack's story

I saw it on the screen and said "tell me, please, that it’s not what I think."

- Alex, Jack's dad

Jack’s story is a rollercoaster ride of despair, bravery and miracles. After seemingly dodging a bullet, he later relapsed with inoperable brain cancer. Fast running out of options, he was enrolled on the Zero Childhood Cancer Program. He and his family haven’t looked back since.


Jack was an action kid. Bubbly and energetic, he was always doing something and willing to try anything. His mum, Viv, says that from the day he was born, he was full of life and always ‘on the go’. “He could never sit still,” says Jack’s dad, Alex.


When Jack turned nine years old, something changed. There were periods of being absent and dazed. He became so sensitive to light he couldn’t look at an iPad. It was clear that something was wrong.


Viv and Alex took Jack to a neurologist, who agreed to do an MRI. The test showed up a large brain tumour. Although the tumour had grown quite big, it was classified as a low-grade glioma. A successful operation followed and Jack was given a positive prognosis. Viv and Alex were overcome with relief.

We thought: Thank you God, we are so lucky. Within three months, Jack was back to himself, had returned to school and the ordeal looked like it was over. 

- Viv, Jack's mum


Just over a year later, Jack woke up with a terrible headache and started vomiting. “That’s when the nightmare began”, says Viv. “We went straight to the hospital and basically never left.” This time, it was much worse. Jack was screaming with pain. 

Jack said to me "Why am I in so much pain? Why can’t they stop this pain?"

- Viv, Jack's mum


Another brain operation showed there was no tumour mass to remove; instead, the cancer seemed everywhere from the bottom of Jack’s spine to the top of his head. Fluid was building on his brain, and lumbar punctures needed to be done weekly to relieve the pressure and provide relief from the pain. Jack had become bed-bound.

To see him so motionless and just no zest for life, it was really frightening because we don’t know Jack that way.

- Viv, Jack's mum

Jack’s condition was rapidly deteriorating and he was fast running out of options. Chemotherapy was not working. He was no longer able to walk, and he was close to losing his sight.

Jack asked me: "Am I going to die?"

- Alex, Jack's dad

Clinical trial

Jack was enrolled on the Zero Childhood Cancer Program clinical trial. A sample of his cancer was sent to our lab, where our researchers identified a specific genetic mutation likely to be driving the cancer, as well as a combination of drugs capable of treating it. Within a few days, Jack was sitting up in bed. Six weeks later, he was playing tennis and riding his bike.

It was miraculous. In a matter of days, Jack was transformed back to himself.

- Viv, Jack's mum


Today, Jack is back into everything, recently winning awards in his school’s athletics carnival – an amazing feat for someone who had been so sick. “You wouldn’t know he’s been ill, never mind that he’d had a brain tumour!” says Viv. Jack recently turned 12 and his family are absolutely thrilled to see him so healthy.


We got to celebrate another precious birthday with our son. And I hope that, because of Zero Childhood Cancer, there will be many more to follow.

- Viv, Jack's mum

Zero Childhood Cancer

The Zero Childhood Cancer Program is the most ambitious childhood cancer initiative ever undertaken in Australia. This program is led by Children’s Cancer Institute and the Kids Cancer Centre at Sydney Children’s Hospital, Randwick bringing together all major Australian clinical and research groups working in childhood cancer to offer Australia's first ever personalised medicine program for children with high-risk or relapsed cancer.

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