When August rolls around each summer, many kids start thinking about the new school year —perhaps wishing summer would never end. This year, Jack Vold won't be one of them. Unlike some of his peers, he's excited to get back to the books. "He's looking forward to being a normal teenager again," Jack's mom, Jessica, recently told The Med City Beat.
For the past year, Jack's life has been anything but normal. In September, after suffering unrelenting knee pain, Jack, just 11 at the time, was diagnosed with acute lymphocytic leukemia and referred to Mayo Clinic for treatment. Since then, his life has been tests and treatments, appointments and hospitalizations. Jack's family — including his twin sister, Kaylie — has been with him every step of the way. "She is my best friend," Jack told The Med City Beat.
Now she's something more, as well. After learning a bone marrow transplant was the best way to ensure Jack's cancer doesn't return, family members stepped up to get tested to see if they were compatible donors. Kaylie, it turns out, was a perfect match. And on May 19 — a day the family now refers to as "Hero Day" — doctors removed Kaylie's bone marrow and transplanted it into Jack. The donation "brought them closer," Jessica tells the publication, "though they don't always admit it."
After the procedure, Jack spent 40 days at the Saint Marys Campus of Mayo Clinic Hospital – Rochester, which came to feel like something of a second home. "They made me feel like family," Jack told The Med City Beat. He's had an impact on his care team, as well. According to the Team Jack - BMT Facebook page, his care team loved "starting their day" by checking on him "because he is always happy and fun to be around."
Jack has since moved to his grandparents' house in Rochester, where he'll remain for at least 100 days after transplant to be close to Mayo Clinic. He then hopes to return to the family's home in Wabasha, Minnesota, to rejoin the rhythms of school and family life. And according to The Med City Beat, he's well on track to do just that. "All indications now are that the transplant was a success," the website reports.
In the meantime, there are more appointments and more tests. And a few other activities as well. Jack and Kaylie recently served as grand marshals of the Wabasha Riverboat Days parade. And last month, the Volds were one of two honorary families at the Go for the Gold 5K Run/3K Family Fun Walk. The event, a fundraiser for Brighter Tomorrows, gave the family a chance to share Jack's story, which included a preview of his plans for the future. "There are two things Jack has decided," Jessica said in her remarks that day, which you can watch on the Team Jack - BMT Facebook page. "One, he wants to pursue something in the medical field as a career, and two, he wants to give back."
Which sounds to us like a plan for many brighter tomorrows.
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