There are many words that can be used to describe thirteen-year-old Jacob Randell – kind, caring, bright, brave and happy – but the best word of all is love. Jacob exudes love. He has such huge love for his family. In fact, when his little brother Liam was born, Jacob was in the middle of a fight for his life. Liam gave Jacob a new will to live.
On November 2, 2008 Liliane and Jason brought Jacob to CHEO’s Emergency Department. Jacob was vomiting daily and when he told his parents he was tired of feeling sick, CHEO was the next stop.
What mom, Liliane and dad, Jason didn’t expect was a 247 day stay at CHEO.
A CT scan revealed that Jacob had a brain tumour; atypical teratoid rhabdoid tumour, a very rare form of brain cancer.
A CT scan revealed that Jacob had a brain tumour; atypical teratoid rhabdoid tumour, a very rare form of brain cancer. Utter devastation for the family but they put on a brave face for their five year old. A series of tests followed and then on November 6, a 17 hour brain surgery was performed, removing 60 percent of the tumour. In addition to his diagnosis and treatment, Jacob’s journey was riddled with complications. The tumour caused deafness in his left ear; surgery paralyzed the left side of his face, hindered his ability to swallow and he has permanent blurred vision in his left eye. None of this dampened this little boy’s spirit.
Once the type of cancer was identified Jacob began a specific protocol which included chemotherapy, 30 days of radiation to attempt to shrink the remainder of the tumour and a stem cell transplant.
“It was a dark time for us,” remembers Liliane. “The odds weren’t good for this rare type of brain cancer but on September 3, 2009, 10 months after diagnosis, a scan showed there were no cancer cells. It was so unexpected!” The entire family celebrated the news and Jacob started grade one just two days later…cancer free!
Jacob continued to visit CHEO for regular scans to ensure the tumour was not growing. On October 19, 2011 the family received the best possible news – Jacob’s tumour was gone! “It was surreal to hear that news,” says Liliane. “It took a while to sink in to be honest.”
More recently Jacob was given a diagnosis of schwannomatosis, a condition that predisposes him to nerve tumours. Jacob will need to be followed regularly to monitor any new growths but again he doesn’t let this stress him.
Despite all the treatments, blood tests and scans, when Jacob is asked what his memories of CHEO are, he only has good things to say. “Through the good and the bad, especially the bad, CHEO was there for me. Without them I wouldn’t be here today.”
Not a day goes by that the Randell family doesn’t realize just how lucky they are. Jacob is truly a miracle child. He defied terrible odds and showed such bravery in the face of a very difficult journey. Jacob leaves his mark everywhere he goes.
It’s his determination and willingness to give back that landed him a special title. Jacob was chosen to be CHEO’s 2016-2017 Children’s Miracle Network Champion Child sponsored by Walmart. It’s an honour given to one patient each year in which they represent all CHEO patients at various speaking engagements.
Whenever he can, Jacob tells anyone who will listen that CHEO is his hospital, now more than ever. Just last fall his younger sister Sophia was diagnosed with the same type of rare brain tumour. Jacob is not only an amazing big brother but says, “If I could do all her treatments for her I would so she wouldn’t have to go through what I did.”