Jack Giorgio: His Drive & #55
May 20, 2019. The day life changed in the blink of an eye for the Giorgio family when doctors told Tony and Sue that their son Jack had a brain tumor at age 11. Over the next month, Jack would undergo multiple tissue biopsies and MRIs to diagnose him with a low-grade glioma tumor.
This tight-knit family of five includes Jack, his parents, and older twin sisters Madison and Allison. They are athletic and adventurous – skiing, boating, and snowmobiling together – and they love to travel and try new things, with a focus on community and bringing people together.
Looking back, his dad will tell you that Jack’s brain tumor journey started in December 2018. Jack was on cloud nine, joining a hockey team in the fall and carrying on his family’s ice-skating tradition. Those who knew his late grandfather would tell Jack that he skated just like him. That December Tony noticed that Jack was “wobbly” while skating and performing leg strengthening exercises. Shortly after in 2019 Jack seemed to get his feet confused during boxing lessons and he had difficulty picking up the puck at hockey practice. These athletic challenges were not happening consistently, so like most parents, Tony and Sue attributed them to a growth spurt. Then in April 2019, the family went on a vacation to Costa Rica, where Jack’s hand went numb. They knew something was wrong.
Since Jack’s diagnosis, he has endured difficult treatment and several complications. His initial chemotherapy regimen lasted 62 weeks, with weekly treatments every Friday for four weeks, followed by a two-week break before starting up again. Every Saturday following treatment, Jack was at home feeling sick from its side effects while his friends were out doing typical kid things. He had a cyst that caused extreme pressure on surrounding brain tissue that doctors had to drain a few times each month, first through multiple surgeries and then through an implanted reservoir. He also endured physical therapy two to three times per week, along with occupational therapy, to address weaknesses on his left side and regain as much strength as possible proactively before the next surgery.
Although his treatment journey has been painful and difficult, Jack has pushed through with fierce determination. August 10, 2020 marked a turning point for him. In week fifty-five of treatment (the same number as his hockey jersey), Jack’s family finally received the news that they had been hoping for – his MRI showed retraction of the tumor for the first time. This allowed him to stop chemotherapy treatment by October 2020. By November 2020, Jack’s cyst was also smaller and no longer needed draining. MRI scans over the next year showed tumor shrinkage and stability with no new growth.
Today at age 14, Jack is doing well and participating in “normal kid stuff again,” notes his mom, Sue. “Like he did before his diagnosis – playing golf and flag football, and recently making his school’s varsity basketball team, which is an unbelievable joy, as a short while back he couldn’t shoot the ball because his left side was so weak.” Recognizing how far he has come – from initial difficulty walking up the stairs steadily to recently jumping into her car with five of his teammates, she adds, “We are back at what feels like a normal state for us, and we couldn’t be more grateful.” Jack’s family nonetheless shares the lingering trepidation that many families face with each upcoming MRI scan. But also like others, Tony adds that when they were “yearning for a success story” and “just needing some hope,” members of the PBTF community gave them that. Now they just want to do whatever they can for other families.
Jack’s parents, coaches, and teachers all describe Jack the same way: a helper, always there for others, never unkind or insensitive. He captivates people with his smile and draws them in with conversation. “Jack is often my inspiration,” says Sue. “He never once complained about his diagnosis or while going through treatment. He really has the quality of living in the moment and appreciating those around him, and that reminds me to slow down and be present.”
Jack’s family started Jack’s Drive 55 with fundraising benefiting PBTF. They hope that they can inspire others the way Jack inspires them. Jack has a drive inside of him – a drive to help others, to serve his community, and to thrive after overcoming his brain tumor. Join the community of JacksDrive55 and inspire others alongside him!
Learn more here.