‘I’m going to keep fighting’: Spokane teenager with terminal cancer hopes to complete bucket list
SPOKANE, Wash. — A Spokane teenager is fighting the clock that an inoperable tumor gave him, hoping to complete his bucket list.
On February 20, 16-year-old Jaden Baer found out he had terminal cancer.
It all started out with a headache in late December. Jaden said they started getting more frequent and painful. In January, he went a little cross-eyed. In February, they finally got in to see their eye doctor and his eye doctor directed him to the emergency room. Jaden got a few MRI’s at the hospital.
“The entire time we’re looking at the photo on the screen, we’re just hoping like that shouldn’t be cancerous. We hope to God it’s not cancerous,” Jaden said.
The tumor ended up being cancerous. The doctors say it’s known as a diffuse midline glioma.
“There is no cure so far, but they’re hoping they can find a weakness in it,” Jaden said.
The tumor is inoperable, Jaden’s mother Jessica Eckersley told 4 News Now. They were told Jaden had to undergo six weeks of radiation.
“After that if there’s nobody that can do the surgery or do clinical trials, patients with this type of cancer have anywhere from four to nine months,” Jessica said. “When they start to decline, they decline really quick.”
Jaden won’t accept that deadline, though.
“That’s what they’re saying, but I don’t believe that. I believe I can go a lot longer than they say,” he said.
“He’s going to be the person who breaks that mold. He’ll break the timeline. He might outlive it. He might be the first person to get the vaccine – it works – it’ll be him,” Jessica said. “If not, then he was the one who helped find it, or helped fight for it.”
Jaden said he wants to help find the “silver lining” and help shed light on whatever research he can to help find that cure.
“I know there’s a lot of people out there who don’t, that aren’t as lucky. I want to help those unlucky people and give them a little more hope in their lives,” he said.
The family is looking for any surgeon out there who may help.
“Do whatever it takes and sending his charts across many clinical trials across the country, too. To see who can, who’s willing to tackle this,” Jessica said.
In the meantime, Jaden is still attending school and being a regular kid.
“I’m just trying to keep everything normal to let people know that I’m alright, you know?” he said.
When people found out at school, Jaden said everyone “flipped out.”
“I mean, who wouldn’t? It’s cancer. But, I’m fine. I’m OK with it and I’m going to keep fighting. My family is going to keep fighting. We’re not going to give up,” Jaden said.
When you’ve got so much life left to live, you want to make the most of it. That is what Jaden and his family are now trying to do. Fight this cancer, hopefully extend his deadline and live his life by checking off items on a bucket list he just made.
A 16-year-old shouldn’t have to make a bucket list.
“That is such a hard request to ask anybody to put this together. It usually doesn’t mean great terms down the road,” Jessica said.
Jaden got the idea from his step-dad Brian Eckersley.
“They said shoot for the stars,” Jaden said.
So, he did.
Here’s his list so far:
- Meet Youtube sensation Jacksepticeye
- Meet comedian and actor Nick Kroll
- Meet actor Ryan Reynolds
- Meet Sir Elton John
- Get tattoos of his siblings’ birthdays in roman numerals
- Ride a helicopter with his friends to lunch
- Shoot a sniper rifle
- See his foreign exchange friends Leon and Andres and where they live
- Fly his friend Colby up to Spokane
- Finish a book he wrote
- Have a big friend and family gathering
- Cook and bake with his neighbor
As you can see, some of his bucket list are lofty goals, but some are simple.
“Finish my book, that’s something that, something I started recently. It’s actually helped, coping wise, coming to terms with everything that’s going on,” Jaden said. ” I mean, it’s helped me realize why my life is great, you know, because of all the people in it. That’s what the book is about. It’s about all the people that’s made my life great.”
Youtube sensation ‘Jacksepticeye’ reached out to 4 News Now after we tweeted about Jaden’s list. ‘Jacksepticeye’ said he’s going to try and make something work.
Jessica said her son is one of the most goofy and fun-loving people you’d ever meet.
“His biggest wish is just to have everybody together and have everybody grateful and kind and I know that sounds so cliche, if you know him and know his heart, it makes sense,” she said.
With all of his big heart, he’s going to try and fight that timeline.
“I know this is a very difficult thing for my family to go through. I know this is very difficult for my friends, but if I have a smile on my face, through and through, I know they will too,” Jaden said.
If you’d like to help Jaden and his family, click here for their GoFundMe.
Since the GoFundMe was created, thousands of dollars have been donated to the family.
“I say ‘Thank you,’ but I can’t say that enough. There’s nothing I can do to repay people that have donated and help except get through this and fight. Like I keep fighting, just with a smile on my face,” he said.
On March 11 from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. a spaghetti feed and silent auction will take place at OverBluff Cellars for Jaden, check out the Facebook event here.
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