The Rock Star
Holding three examples of dynamic art projects in her hands, AFL Program Director, Sarah Alexander knocks on a patient door and cracks it open, peering inside. She is greeted by a smiling 11-year-old boy, Jacob, sitting up in bed. He has a bright personality that immediately shines through with the help of his funky blonde mullet hairstyle and rock star clothes.
You would never know that several days before, Jacob had been admitted to Presbyterian Hospital with an assumed football injury but was instead diagnosed with Burkitt's Lymphoma, an aggressive form of pediatric cancer. Amazingly, he shows few signs of distress as he shares with Sarah news of his medical condition, surgeries, and his intense chemotherapy treatments to come. His positive outlook and acute sense of humor are immediately evident to Sarah. She senses how important it will be to keep this extraordinary patient active during his hospital stays.
She asks Jacob if he would be interested in an art project and his mom makes a face expressing "Good Luck." To her surprise, Jacob agrees with a big smile, but he follows with disclaimer saying, "But, I am not good at art." After Sarah assures him that everyone can find talent in some form of art, Jacob begins to work on the first of many projects that he will complete with her over the next few months.
Jacob receives the majority of his chemotherapy treatments on the inpatient unit and stays in the hospital for 3 -5 days each visit. Arts For Life has become an important part of Jacob’s new routine. As soon as he checks in and sees Sarah coming with her art cart, he grabs his IV pole and propels himself, skateboard style, into the Teen Room at Hemby Children’s Hospital. Jacob is always ready for a new project, and doesn’t stop at just one per session. These art lessons last at least two hours, if not three! Jacob has filled an entire bulletin board with his bright artwork, which he jokingly refers to as "Jacob's Board.”
One might expect an 11-year-old to have a hard time dealing with the painful and sometimes embarrassing events that occur in their bodies due to chemotherapy. Not Jacob. Jacob handles it all with a matter-of-fact attitude, facing challenges as they come and following them with smiles, laughter, and tons of great artwork.