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Touchdown helps 12-year-old kick cancer

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By Jamie Baker-Nantz

Jacob Vickers is just 12 years old, but he’s a fighter and a survivor. He was diagnosed with rhabdomyosarcoma, or a cancerous tumor of the muscles attached to bone. It is rare and the most common soft tissue tumor in children. In the six years since it was discovered, he’s fought hard and undergone round after round of chemotherapy and radiation. This past July was spent in the hospital.


His cancer is in remission and he’s been able to return to schools. This year he’s in sixth grade at Grant County Middle School.


On Sunday, Aug. 19, Jacob achieved a dream when he ran the first touchdown of the Grant County Youth Football League Blue/Gold game. He is a member of the Gold Powerhouse team.


His mother, Terry Vickers, was overcome with emotion as she watched her son run down the football field with his teammates following close behind.


“He’s really weak but he really wanted this moment,” his mother said.
Jacob played football before, but had to quit two years ago because of the cancer.


His diagnosis came after he was sick for 10 days with several symptoms.


A CT scan at Children’s Hospital showed a large tumor.
“He was at the end of stage three of four stages when they found it,” she said. “That wasn’t a good day.”
Since then, it’s been chemotherapy and radiation. Doses, his mother described as massive.
At first glance, Jacob looks like most kids his age. His hair is slightly longer than his teammates – a tribute to his victory over cancer.
“I know his hair is longer than the other kids, but after all he’s been through he deserved to have it grow long,” she said.
At one point, Jacob was so weak from the treatments, he barely had strength to sit in a wheelchair, his small frame covered in IV tubes.
That’s when the new female Boxer puppy his mother bought him for Christmas was stolen in 2007.


When Jacobs’s brother said he thought the pup was at a neighbor’s house. Terry went to get it back, only to be ordered off the neighbor’s property.


Jacob’s story, including his battle with cancer and the stolen puppy, appeared on television. When Shane Graham, a kicker for the Bengals, saw the story, he contacted the Vickers family and bought him another puppy, which he named Shayna.


Shayna recently was diagnosed with cancer and like her owner, she too, is cancer free.
Maybe that’s why Jacob is a Bengals fan.
“I like them because they’re the home team and they’re beasts,” he said.


When he’s not doing homework, he likes playing with his brother and playing video games.
He’s kind of quiet when it comes to his cancer battle but has a bright yellow bracelet he often wears bears the message “Kickin’ cancer.”
In honor of Jacob’s battle, the entire league is sporting helmets with ? ribbons. Kelly Hamilton, the Blue Powerhouse coach, came up with the idea to let Jacob run the first touchdown because he can’t play in his weakened condition.


“We just wanted to do this for him to show our support,” said John McGowan, athletic director for the league.
“He earned this for all he’s been through,’ said Terry. “He’s got the best personality in the world. He’s just a truly amazing kid.”