By his Mum Sabrina
I don’t know the odds of being born into this world a perfectly formed, content little boy but for Shane and myself Jack was without a doubt our – one in a million. As a baby Jack had those big beautiful blond curls, the type that were just adored by all whom he met. It can be no wonder that he became so into his hair styles after spending all those early months, maybe even years giving people “A curl” on request.
Going to school was certainly a big joy for our Jack, he wore the biggest and the broadest smile that his little cheeks could possibly hold. His face beaming with pride is a sight that will never leave us. Jack thrived in school and was described to us as being the most kind, considerate and helpful child imaginable, a credit to us, is what we were told. The friendships he made there with his wonderful classmates remained stubbornly and strongly with him every single day, most especially those days when he was unable to attend in person.
Socially Jack was always a capable young man. He had a great sense of humour, he could take a good slagging and like all good company was capable of giving it back – only when the need arose of course.
September 2020 was an exciting time in the Lawless house – Jack and Ethan chomping at the bit eager to get back to school and younger brother Caelan, an anxious first timer in big school, safe in the knowledge that he had two big brothers to show him the ropes. Little did we know where we would be before the month of September was out.
Jack’s illness came on us suddenly. We thought we could sense an issue with his eyesight maybe an issue with him focusing on the ball at hurling, with his reading or sometimes even when he was gaming. Within days Jack had his eyes tested and whilst he didn’t even know what it was that he was describing he was able to explain that he had been experiencing some double vision. A few short days later Jack found himself in A&E where it was decided he would need a scan. The results came in immediately and hardly before our hearts even got a chance to beat, we were whisked off to Dublin.
Our week in Temple Street was tough and it did take its toll as the medical staff scrambled to get Jack his diagnosis. Jack ended the week very ill as all the various procedures had left their mark. Brave Jack and only one week on, he was already showing us his strength and resilience as he had to relearn to walk. Jack was moving on, getting back up, picking up the pieces – Jack wasn’t at all bitter with how the week had gone, Jack was our one in a million.
Then we got that call from the doctors – the call to sit down, and we heard their words – we’re sorry but… – and this is every parent’s worst nightmare, your child has a cancerous tumour deep inside his brain. Yes, they were sure, no, there was no need for second opinions, no need for further tests, there was no mistake, they had seen this before and knew exactly what they were dealing with.
All we could be offered by way of explanation was that Jack was just desperately unlucky, that his ailment was through nobody’s fault, no fault of Jack’s nor anybody else’s and that the chances of Jack or any other child suffering from this type of cancer was one in a million.
But we already had our one in a million we pleaded; we didn’t need any other. We just wanted our boy back, back as he was and had been just a few short weeks earlier. We were now praying for a miracle that we would never have wished for. We just wanted to be left alone, left as we were two weeks earlier, our own Lawless family.
But there was to be no going back, it was now down to our Jack. And boy did he show us the way. Who would have thought that it would take a one in a million child to fight a one in a million illness. Jack took his challenge, Jack faced down his illness every step of the way. Jack never gave up and he never gave in.
Jack adapted to every challenge thrown at him without ever looking back, never dwelling on what had been taken from him but focusing on the positive and all that he could still do.
Jack was offered radiotherapy as his treatment option after he was transferred from the care of Temple Street Hospital to Crumlin Children’s Hospital.
Jack never complained, never asked why me, never felt sorry for himself, and never ever lost the ability to consider the feelings of others around him. The kindness within him remained with him throughout it all, including those toughest of days where we relied on his strength and the strength of those around us to make it through.
So many of the childhood cancer charities and the Galway Hospice looked after us, – Oscar’s Kids, Little Blue Heroes, Clíona’s Foundation, Aoibheann’s Pink Tie, Make a Wish, Childhood Cancer Ireland and many more. Including Daisy Lodge in Co. Down, which we loved so much we even went twice! These Charities and our community, and by our community we mean at least half the country and beyond, really rallied in the most amazing ways to give Jack and all of us some of the most amazing life experiences imaginable. All of these amazing and once in lifetime experiences were facilitated and arranged by ordinary people with extraordinary empathy, generosity and kindness for which we will forever be indebted.
It’s fair to say even though we had amazing experiences as parents we sometimes felt alone. Our situation was so rare, and with Covid 19 restrictions on top, we just weren’t meeting anyone else “like us”. We didn’t meet any other family with childhood cancer, and we were never in the hospital. We didn’t get to see or walk the corridors of St. John’s Ward or meet any of the community that exists there fighting childhood cancer day after day. Whilst I appreciate it may sound warped even unfathomable, we could only have wished to have been part of that amazing community. We are under no illusions as to the difficulty faced by the families on St John’s Ward where families and children are fighting for their lives, sometimes undergoing the harshest of treatments on offer, doing anything and everything to save or to improve the life of a child. For our one in a million there was unfortunately no such treatment available on St John’s ward, no need for us to walk the corridors, no need for endless consultations with doctors and no need for us to share Jacks bravery with the other families there.
Jack, under the supervision of his amazing medical team in Dublin, was cared for at home by his family, charities, amazing people including neighbours, friends and a community who rallied around us then and who still do today., Our situation was, like every other family with childhood cancer, unique yet further complicated with covid and the restrictions in place during Jacks illness.
Jack deserves all the recognition received for his bravery throughout his illness. Jack’s life has been cut short by cancer, but the cancer did not take our Jack from us. Jack never let the cancer into his spirit. Jack was with us every day throughout his illness, right up until the end Jack’s spirit and character was greatly present through to his very last breath on that Tuesday when Jack, once again, proved how he was one in a million when he was hand-picked for paradise.
Jack should have lived to be 100 years and not the 11 short years that we had him in our lives. Jacks’ kindness and nature demonstrated the absolute pureness of his character, and we love him dearly.
I am in awe of the strength Jack showed throughout his life I am so proud of the example he has set for us his parents, and his younger brothers. We continue to love and hold him close in our hearts.