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Kirkland boy battling leukemia named Leukemia and Lymphoma Society event honoree

Jacob Schaub, age 7, has been fighting leukemia since he was diagnosed in February 2011. This year, he was named the honoree for the Pineapple 5K fund raiser that will take place on Saturday, Nov. 10. The event will benefit leukemia research.  - Sofia Pastirmatzi Schaub
Jacob Schaub, age 7, has been fighting leukemia since he was diagnosed in February 2011. This year, he was named the honoree for the Pineapple 5K fund raiser that will take place on Saturday, Nov. 10. The event will benefit leukemia research.
— image credit: Sofia Pastirmatzi Schaub

Not many children study how computer games are made, with hopes to become a game developer. Not many are named honorees of major organizations like 7-year-old Jacob Schaub was. But then again, not many children have had to go through nearly two years of battling leukemia as Schaub currently is.

Two weeks ago, Jacob was deemed Honoree of the 7th annual Winter Pineapple Classic 5k fun run by Wilma Comenat of the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society (LLS).

Jacob’s mother Sofia said he’s excited to be able to hold the pineapple this weekend as others run an obstacle course in an effort to raise $500,000. LLS has raised $2 million over the last six years.

“We currently have just over 2,200 participants but we’d love to see 3,000,” said Comenat.

Last year, Sofia ran in the fun run but Jacob had to sit out. He was still in the midst of fighting his leukemia.

After complaining of stomach pain for some time and after his parents noticed a change in his energy, they took him to the emergency room of Seattle Children’s Hospital last winter. Doctors took his parents aside, handed them tissues and delivered the hard news: his blood was full of sick white cells and the pain in his stomach was caused by a cancerous mass the size of an orange.

Jacob was admitted to Children’s for two weeks of intensive chemotherapy. And the entire year was made up of hospital visits two-to-three times a week, the occasional infection, a lot of commuting and plenty of homeschooling.

Jacob was diagnosed with leukemia Feb. 3, 2011 - just two weeks after his sixth birthday but 10 days after his kindergarten teacher Rosemary Allan-Humphreys had signed up to do her fourth event with LLS. Her uncle had passed away from leukemia in 2000.

“It was very strange to have a student going through this since raising money for research has been a passion of mine for such a long time,” said Allan-Humphreys, who is now Jacob’s brother’s kindergarten teacher at Carl Sandburg Elementary. “I felt sad for Jacob; the pain he was going through, the long stays at the hospital, missing school and playing outside and around groups of other children.”

Jacob missed nearly his entire first grade because his immune system was very weak.

“I remember when we went to school during first grade, he’d say ‘I don’t like when they look at me,’” Sofia recalls when her son lost his hair from chemotherapy.

Allan-Humphreys would engage him by playing games and having him write about the computer games he loves to play. A favorite is Minecraft.

“Jacob is a very bright boy, so academically I knew he’d be okay,” she said.

He has recently started back at school for second grade and while he enjoys math and P.E., Allan-Humphreys does acknowledge he missed a lot of school over the past two years and that being back is a big adjustment for him. She says he misses his mom and he does get tired but whenever she sees him with his family, he’s “very happy, smiling, excited to show me the latest additions to his Minecraft world.”

“It’s been a little hard for him to get back,” Sofia said. “After not being there and then following the routines and now there are 20 kids in his classroom, but he’s doing well and he’s happy when he gets home.”

Although Jacob’s chemotherapy will be done June 2014, he frequents the hospital much less - about once a month for steroids. Sofia says his cancerous cells are gone but now they are in the maintenance phase. He is very comfortable with his doctor and familiar with the hospital.

“He doesn’t think about his illness all the time,” Sofia said. “Sometimes he has questions and talks with his brother about hating cancer, but for me and my husband, it’s emotionally hard to know that your child is really sick. Even if he’s doing well right now, we always know we have a sick child.”

But Sofia says her family stays close and they continue to move forward.

“I hate cancer. To have cancer feels different,” said Jacob. “Cancer makes you feel you can die, but I say no to the cancer.”

The Winter Pineapple Classic will be at Mountain Meadows Farm in North Bend, Wash. on Saturday, Nov. 10.

To donate toward the Schaub's fun run team, visit their website.

Below: Jacob Schaub, photo by SolaceArts.com

Jacob Schaub

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