Jack Hoffman gets to hold Rex Burkhead's Uplifting Athletes trophy Saturday.
Photo by Scott Bruhn/Nebraska Communications

Jack Takes a Step Back; Optimism Prevails

By NU Athletic Communications


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By Randy York

Wednesday was a bad news/good news day for the Hoffman family at Boston Children's Hospital. The bad news was 6-year-old Jack Hoffman, Rex Burkhead's little buddy who's been battling pediatric brain cancer for a year now, had an MRI show that a spot in his brain was, in fact, a tumor which has grown, not scar tissue. The good news is Jack's doctors and parents remain "very optimistic" that Jack will respond well to what likely will be a full year of chemotherapy treatments. "We were reminded today that this is journey and not a race," Andy Hoffman, Jack's dad, said by phone Wednesday.

"We really did think that spot could be remaining scar tissue, but the tumor's actually grown quite a bit," Andy said. "We're disappointed, but still have a lot of fight left and not ready to give up. The doctors are incredibly optimistic. We have an aggressive plan, and we're going to jump right on it as soon as possible."

The family had a full day of appointments Wednesday and will fly back to Nebraska early Thursday morning. Meanwhile, "Jack's team of doctors will meet tomorrow, and we're going to get on a conference call with them Friday morning and finalize most of the (treatment) details," Andy Hoffman said. "We had a two-hour meeting with the neuro-oncologist this afternoon, and Jack played a Mario game on his Nintendo DSI most of the time while we talked. His spirits are good. His fingers, toes, balance and everything else is good. He's walking a straight line.

"Today was a step back, but we have to remind ourselves how far we've come in just one year," Andy Hoffman said. "We have to remember that today is April 18, 2012, and we still have great hope. On April 22, 2011, Jack nearly lost his life to a massive seizure, and his first surgery was a month later (on May 20, 2011). We just thank God that we can still fight this.

"Someone told me once that if you want to make God laugh, tell Him your plans," Andy said. "We thought this could be in our rear-view mirror, but it's not. The great hope we have is not false hope. These doctors are incapable of creating false hope. We all believe Jack is going to be with us for a long time."

The family's latest trip to Boston reconfirmed the Hoffman's commitment to help increase awareness of pediatric brain cancer. "It's a rare disease," Andy Hoffman said, "but we're doing everything possible to get one step closer to the research that's required to fight this deadly disease."

On Jack's CaringBridgwebsite, his dad wrote: "Jack continues to do amazing. Thank you everyone for your posts, calls, texts, prayers, e-mails and support."

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