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Jack may have what he calls “battle scars” from his long fight against a tumour that grew out of his optic nerve, but he hasn’t let them define him.

Jack’s battle began at just 6 months old. His parents had taken him to Toronto’s Hospital for Sick Children, seeking a second opinion after being told Jack had nystagmus, a condition in which the eyes move uncontrollably and rapidly, and that it might resolve on its own. Four days later, following an MRI, Jack was diagnosed with an optic pathway glioma.

Fourteen months of chemotherapy followed, including a harrowing infection five weeks in, at the site of an implanted port that was being used to deliver Jack’s treatments. The tumour would also have a permanent impact on Jack’s vision. In the midst of the chaos, Jack soldiered on, working with an occupational therapist to help him gain strength and balance and reach developmental milestones.

The Conways remember that Dr. Eric Bouffet, the head of Sick Kids’ neuro-oncology department, made a point of telling them that in his experience, children receiving treatment would most likely not reach future milestones until after treatment had concluded.

Jack, however, started walking at 16 months, and was able to carry his new Winnie the Pooh “stuffie” down the hospital hallway after one of his treatments. “The smile on Eric’s face was priceless!” Steve recalls. “And that is when he told me that Jack was his first infant patient to walk while on treatment.”

Almost seven treatment-free years followed. Then, in 2013, a new tumour appeared. At 8½ years old, Jack began a 70-week chemo protocol. Another port infection caused delays, but Jack finished his treatment on March 20, 2015.

It was at Sick Kids in 2005 that Steve first learned about MBF, then known as Meagan’s Walk. “I read about the walk, and I thought, ‘What an amazing way to spend Mother’s Day.’ And then I read about the hug around the hospital, and I thought ‘We could have used a hug like that.'"

“Team Jack” was formed for the 2006 Meagan’s Walk and Hug, and since then, Jack’s family has participated almost every year, either as walkers or volunteers. Jack has joined every year he has been well enough.

“As a little kid, he would go around Sick Kids hugging people,” says his dad. “He would just seem to know who needed a hug.”

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