CHERRYVILLE, NC (WBTV) - This 9-year-old...
Not an easy post to start.
...This 9-year-old is on his last few days.
I talked with Glenn Jackson's dad last night. He asked if I'd write something to "highlight his son's fierce fight", and, more important he said, deeply thank Cherryville for its endless support.
"This town loves its people," John Jackson said, from a hospital hallway. "If you drive up there now, you'll see the whole town is painted red. Every spirit rock painted red. We've heard from everyone. We've never asked for anything but prayers and our community has consistently delivered."
It's quite a story. One John wanted to tell.
His son's unexpected journey started in August of 2016. At the time, he was a second grader at Cherryville Elementary in Gaston County. He played football, baseball, wrestling and was in MMA (mixed martial arts). By all accounts, an effortless athlete and faithful kid.
But one Friday after football practice he seemed tired. His dad noticed. That Saturday, Glenn went to wrestling practice and spent the night at his friend's house. Sunday he slept all day.
"I knew then something was wrong," John said. "Exhaustion wasn't my son."
He went to his local doctor that Monday. They immediately rushed him to Levine Children's Hospital.
"They said he had no blood count," John said. "They couldn't get it to register. He had no platelets. Doctors had no idea how he was practicing football and wrestling days earlier."
He was diagnosed with aplastic anemia, a rare blood disease.
"We'd never heard of it," said John. "No one we know has."
Glenn tried immunotherapy for almost a year, but it wasn't enough and led to a bone marrow transplant. The transplant didn't go so well. Glenn's cells developed at such a high rate – he grew more T-cells in three days than most do in three weeks – they got in his lungs and skin.
John says it was a horrible situation, that his son's skin was simply peeling off. Once doctors got that under control, he was diagnosed with stage four Graft-Versus-Host-Disease (GVHD), which means his skin started peeling off from the inside. After that, the GVHD spread to his liver.
At this point John says Glenn was given two choices: "Stay comfortable." Or, "Undergo chemo."
Glenn chose to fight.
Lots of uphill battle since then. Sadly, this past Monday, doctors told John, his wife April and 12-year-old sister Halle that Glenn had contracted a bacteria and it was a timeline. Could be hours, maybe days.
"He's still lucid," John said. "He's still fighting. We know it's soon, but we're beyond proud of him."
John paused on the phone.
"Throughout this process I said I wouldn't leave his side... and I haven't," he said. "He has taught his mother and I more in his nine years of life than our entire lives combined. He has that impact on everyone who ever meets him. He is a blessing."
Not an easy post to start. Even harder to end.
Huge hug through these words to the Jackson family this morning and beyond.