A week ago today, on August 9, everything changed. St Jude told us that Judah’s tumor is now a very aggressive, high grade, diffuse intrinsic midline glioma. There is no cure to this deadly cancer, and we were devastated to learn that all we can do is buy time for him. He starts radiation on Monday, August 20th, 5 days a week for 6 weeks. If his tumor begins to grow again, we have no other options. We will make Judah comfortable as we try to say goodbye.
We came to St Jude 3 weeks ago for a 2 day appointment, and we never left. In the early summer months we watched chemo destroy his little body, as he was racked with headaches and high fevers. Painful ulcers made eating impossible, so we gave Judah a feeding tube so he could gain the weight needed to fight. We stayed in Memphis with Wendi’s brother’s fabulous family, trying to find hope. Each day brought bad news. Last week were given a home to call ours for the next two months by an incredibly generous family who knows how wonderful and hard it can be to have a child battling cancer at St Jude. Our lives have been turned upside down, and now we are trying to hold each other as our hearts break. The love we have for this precious child is deep, and our pain is excruciating.
We hope and pray the radiation will shrink his tumor so Judah can feel better for a few months. We hope and pray that he can breathe deeply, swallow easily, move fluidly, and sleep soundly all night. We hope that he can laugh with friends, play hide and seek with his cousins, play Mario Kart with his sister, and make his brother laugh. We hope that he can talk Zelda strategy with his dad, and play on his porch with his mom. We hope that he can go to the beach, and visit Legoland, and have the greatest 10th birthday that has ever been celebrated! We hope that the next 6 months feel long and rich, full of laughter and hugs and sighs of joy. We hope that Judah feels loved every second, and that his siblings know he is the best big brother on earth. We want time to linger. And so we live each day, finding the courage to face it all, to smile at Judah, to hold him when he hurts, and to be with his every breath. Thank for your gifts. We will use them to build a lifetime of memories in a few short months.
Judah Finn Thacker is the oldest of three and loves Bey Blades, Pokémon, Star Wars and building LEGO’s with his mom and dad. He is 9 years old and fighting brain cancer with his family’s love, hope and prayers in Knoxville, TN. Originally diagnosed at age 4, Judah had brain surgery and 15 months of chemo and rehab beginning in 2013. In April of 2018, an MRI showed his tumor was growing again, and within a week he had a port in place and began an intense year long chemo regimen. I am Judah’s aunt, and my entire family knows he is the most courageous kid we know. Fighting cancer, especially at a hospital far from home, is exhausting and expensive. Both of his parents come to every out of town appointment, and his siblings have learned to make a home in lots of places, from waiting rooms to grandparents’ to the back of the van on I-40!
Judah is full of joy, never complains, and has faced unbelievable pain and disappointment with a lopsided grin spreading across his face. Judah is an awesome big brother, fun-loving and always willing to play a game with younger kids using his gigantic imagination. He knows this year of chemo, “will be really hard,” and we all wish this stinking brain tumor would go away!
Visit Judah’s Caring Bridge Page to read his story or to get updates on his brave battle to love his life and crush his cancer! https://www.caringbridge.org/visit/judahthacker
We are raising funds to help the Thackers:
Pay their insurance deductible and drug cost for 2[phone redacted] during Judah’s chemo (approx $18K).
Cover travel and childcare expenses for their frequent trips to Vanderbilt Children’s Hospital, 3 hours from their home (approx $4K).
Provide some relief and joy, like dinners, date nights, or FUN activities for Judah and his siblings when he feels up for it ($6k).
In the words we imagine Yoda would say to Judah: Cancer you have, fight you must!
Warriors come in all sizes, and our favorite is a 9 year old with a huge, generous heart named Judah Finn!
- Lakisha Taylor
- Gourley Family
- Greer Heatherly
- Kim Kennedy
Organizer and beneficiary
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