I’m Jake Sears. I’m 18 years old and I have practically lived at Seattle Childrens Hospital my whole life. It all began in 2000. I was a week away from my 7th birthday when I started feeling sick all the time in my classroom. Also, I couldn’t walk straight anymore without banging – boom! boom!—into the walls, leaving huge dents. At the hospital I got an MRI right away. They told my Mom the test revealed something called medulla-blastoma. Brain cancer. Later that day, a surgeon, a specialist and a nurse told my Mom and me I would require surgery immediately to remove the golf ball in my head. If you are wondering where my Dad is in all this, he was gone before I was two years old. I’ve never seen him, besides in photos. No contact. No memories. No child support. No nothing.
At the age of seven, I didn’t fully grasp the concept of cancer, so I pretty much floated with the boat. My mom seemed to be in a pretty calm state of mind, telling me “We’ll get through this”. She was her usual, positive self.
As soon as I began chemotherapy, I started getting nauseous all the time especially during radiation part –the fumes from the radiation machine smelled awful. It also messed up my taste buds totally. I was sick every second. And nothing seemed appetizing. I didn’t want to eat. It took a few weeks before I made the great discovery: Peanut Butter! It was the one thing that made the smell, the nausea disappear.
A year later, after constant chemo and radiation, I was technically cured. But my family as a whole was not cured. I can never get away from cancer. It’s like a Black Hole. My mother got diagnosed with abdominal cancer in 2002. It was her time for treatment. A few years after that, my big brother, Nicholas was diagnosed with gleo-blastoma, which is also brain cancer. But it was the kind that’s “untreatable”. Believe it or not, he lived twice as long as the Doctors predicted. He died on February 21, 2008. He was 17.
Today, I am 18 and battling cancer again. This time it’s osteosarcoma. Bone cancer. It’s a result of all that radiation that cured me in Round One.
Why does cancer flow throughout my veins? And, apparently, everyone in my family? Even the doctors don’t know. My mom is adopted and has never known her background at all. Maybe one reason my dad disappeared is he had a secret or two. Or three. People always ask me “Why?” People want to know… even I wanna’ know… Is it genetic? We all want to know why. No one likes to be left in the dark.
One way I get through it all is my passion for cooking. It puts me in my own zone, my own world, –and I can truly enjoy life! Six weeks ago, I qualified for a full scholarship to Westlake Culinary School. Maybe when I’m there, I can perfect my very own recipe for peanut butter ice cream pie. It will blow you out of this world.
It doesn’t matter to me WHEN I can start attending. I just want to be clear, and by that I mean “cancer free”. So I stay strong. I don’t give up. I WANT TO COOK.