Local Toddler Battles Leukemia
2 year old Jacob Fierro is fighting one of the hardest battles he’ll ever face.
A couple of weeks ago, Jacob had minor cold symptoms, with some congestion and night sweats. When he didn’t get better, his parents, Anthony and Jave took him to the doctors. They said it was a cold, and he would get better soon. Days later, Jacob was still sick. His parents took him to the doctors again, but doctors still insisted it was a minor cold. After 4 doctor visits, Jacob’s parents took him to Kaiser Permanente in Woodland Hills, where the doctor felt Jacob’s swollen neck, and sensed it was more than a cold.
Jacob was then sent to a specialist, where he underwent a bone marrow test and a biopsy. Within a few days, he was diagnosed with T-Cell Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (T-ALL). “T-ALL is pretty much a mix of leukemia and lymphoma; even though it is technically leukemia, it has a lot to do with the lymph nodes. Jacob’s lymph nodes were really swollen, and I think that was the first sign,” says Anthony Fierro. This disease occurs mostly in children, particularly male adolescents, and involves the central nervous system and a mediastinal mass (tumor that occurs in the area between the lungs).
Since then, Jacob has been in great pain, undergoing treatment, and just celebrated his 2nd birthday in the hospital. “It was a really rough time. It was so hard not to cry, but Jacob was in good spirits. And once he got some cake, he seemed to be pretty happy,” Fierro said.
“He’s been a lot better lately. When I called a couple weeks ago, it was completely silent, and for a little boy not to make any noise at all is very unusual. A couple days later, I would hear him in the background, crying because he hurt so much. It’s terrible to see a child in that much pain and not be able to make it go away. But recently, when I called, I heard him talking, and laughing at the TV,” says family friend Lily Stromberg.
“He’s doing a lot better, he’s starting to return to his normal self. Only his mother and I can understand him, but he’s talking saying little things like, ‘okay bye’, but every time he sees someone in a scrub come in, he starts saying, ‘no, no’. He’s done with treatment, he doesn’t want to go through pain anymore. And its hard, but we’re hopeful,” says Fierro.
While Jacob seems to be getting better everyday, his fight to survive is accompanied with another struggle. As time passes, things keep getting harder, and Jacob’s parents are desperately trying to keep up with both the expenses of medical care and their daily needs. The Fierros broke off their apartment lease, and now owe thousands of dollars in fees. The family car is getting old and never did have good mileage; not to mention the cost of gas, which has been more expensive because of traveling to the Woodland Hills Kaiser Permanente hospital daily.
While the Michael Hoefflin Foundation has been helping the Fierros by donating $400 a month towards gas and food, they still need more help. This has prompted Lily Stromberg, who has been friends with Jacob’s mother Jave for many years, to organize a rummage sale fundraiser. “Both Jave and I have lost our mothers to cancer and it’s been tough. So, to help them out, we’re holding a rummage sale fundraiser at Blessed Kateri on March 1st.”
100% of the proceeds will go towards buying Jacob a new bed, and helping the Fierros with bills. “Jacob needs a new bed. He’s too heavy and in too much pain to be sleeping in a crib now. Trying to lower him into the cradle hurts him so much, so we’re thinking that if he had a toddler bed, it would be much easier and more comfortable for him,” Stromberg said.
If you have items you would like to donate, such as, furniture, appliances, clothes or anything else, please contact Lily Stromberg at firstname.lastname@example.org.
So please come to the rummage sale fundraiser, which will take place at Blessed Kateri Catholic Church on Copper Hill and Decoro from 6 a.m. to 3 p.m.. Or, you can donate money to “The Baby Jacob Fund” at Mission Valley Bank located at 25060 W. Avenue Stanford, Ste. #150 in Valencia.