‘I’ve had cancer like the past 3 years': Virginia boy fighting cancer for 5th time at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital

Updated: Jun. 24, 2020 at 10:33 AM EDT
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RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - Zac is a video game-loving, witty humored, huge-hearted kid from Southwest Virginia, who is now fighting cancer for the fifth time.

He is holding out for a miracle, and he’s counting on St. Jude while he receives his treatments in Memphis.

But the game of life has dealt him one of the hardest hands — uncountable cancer treatments and a ruthless fight for his life.

“Well, I’ve had cancer like the past three years,” Zac said.

“We are now fighting cancer for the fifth time,” said his mom, Amy. “He had cancer when he was six. We were treated in North Carolina. ... We went back to our home and hoped cancer was behind us forever.”

But five years after that first cancer diagnosis, Zac started to have leg pain. Soon after, he received his second cancer diagnosis.

“We found out that not only did he have a large tumor in his right leg, he had tumors in his left legs and lungs. The chemo wasn’t working. That’s when we found out he would need an amputation,” Amy said.

Zac started doing multiple rounds of a different chemo treatment. Then two thoracotomies to remove the lung tumors. And then radiation treatments to the tumors in his left leg.

“We found out the cancer was back in his lungs. Then we found out it was back in his left leg. In late May, he developed pain in his wrist,” Amy said. “And in June, we found out it was in his wrist, shoulder, both lungs again, a rib, his abdomen … and later we found out it was in his pancreas.”

Now, Zac is in round nine of this battle with multiple rounds of radiation. His mom says he’s still smiling and still fighting, and St. Jude is a place of hope.

One of the many people Zac has learned to call family at St. Jude is his friend Carson. St. Jude works to keep life normal for these kids, too, through a good old fashioned video game battle.

“They’re fighting hard,” Amy said. “They want their kid to live, and they want your kid to live, and we’re fighting these diseases together.”

Their fight against cancer comes with a hefty cost.

“You can’t budget for cancer, you can’t budget for a catastrophic illness,” said Amy. “You can’t plan for that. And we feel so blessed to be here. We’re so blessed to be here for the brilliant minds and medical care here but to not have the worry of more bills. Because you still have the bills at home.”

St. Jude covers all the bills for families here.

“We have benefited from so many things here at St. Jude and I can’t put into words,” Amy said. “I can’t put it into words and quite honestly, if we hadn’t arrived at St. Jude I don’t think Zac would be here. And how much is one more day worth with your kid? And you can’t….no one thinks their child will get cancer. No one. And most of the time it’s not like, oh that won’t happen to me. You’re just like, you don’t think about it. But you don’t know when it will be your kid or your grandkids or the kid playing down the street. You don’t know.”

Right now, there is no cure for what Zac has. Every day, St. Jude helps him fight another day, making memories with his family. Like so many families who have entered these doors, who are walking these halls, and who will one day get treatment here, Zac’s family is praying for a cure.

“He has worked so hard and stayed so positive through all of it and he still smiles,” Amy said. “He wakes up every day with no legs. And he still smiles and he is still happy. And we’re thankful for him, his positivity, his crazy sense of humor, the one liners can come really fast.”

“We know that no one is promised tomorrow. And there are miracle kids walking the halls of St. Jude everyday. And we’re just thankful Zac is still here and St. Jude is still fighting along side us,” Amy said.

They’re asking you to join the fight by supporting St. Jude. A ticket for a new house, might just be the ticket, to finally finding a cure.

“From Zac and our family to yours, I’d like to just say thank you,” Amy said. “For supporting St. Jude, for supporting us, for supporting the other kids here fighting for their lives and the kids who will fight in the future. And hopefully some day, we won’t need to fight for a cure anymore because the cure will be here. But Zac needs a cure right now.”

Zac is currently going back and forth to treatment in Memphis. He loves spending time at home relaxing, though, in good old Virginia.

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