Posted at: 04/25/2013 12:19 PM
Updated at: 04/25/2013 1:23 PM
By: Brittany Falkers
Friends and family are getting together to raise money for one Northland family facing a rare cancer. They'll host a benefit Saturday, April 27 at Skyline Lanes in Hermantown to help Jake Carlson's young family.
Jake grew up here in the Northland playing hockey for Hermantown in high school and then moving on to play at Northland college. Then in late June of last year, just a little more than a month after graduating, he felt a suspicious and sharp pain in his abdomen.
Jake complained to girlfriend Laura Bordson about the pain and they went straight to the emergency room. "I called Laura and said, 'we need to go to the emergency room.' Because I thought my appendix had burst," Jake said.
When seeking medical treatment for what they thought was appendicitis doctors gave Jake a CT scan. That's when doctors told him he had a large mass in his abdomen.
Jake went in for a biopsy the next day. "It was the fourth of July weekend, so we had to wait four or five days to get the results," he said.
On July 5, 2012, Jake and Laura learned he had a grouping of 11 or 12 desmoplastic small round cell tumors in his abdomen and pelvic cavity, an extremely rare from of Soft Tissue Sarcoma. His doctor at Essentia Health said he'd only seen one case before in his lifetime.
"Life pretty much changed then. It was crazy," Jake said.
This rare form of sarcoma usually only occurs in young males and there are only 200 recorded cases anywhere. Although there is not much research, because the sample size is so small, Jake's doctor here in the Northland reached out to Dr. Brenda Weigel with the University of Minnesota Hospital for his treatment. She has treated 24 of the 200 known cases.
Since his diagnosis in July of 2012, Jake says he's gone through 15 to 20 rounds of aggressive chemotherapy. A CT scan in September showed that the tumors had shrunk by 40 percent. Then another scan in February showed the tumor to be at 50 percent.
"It's super hard for me and my mom, because I've never been sick. I've played hockey all through high school, junior, college hockey. I never had a broken bone, never been sick, never been in the hospital. So, this has really been a huge shock to everybody," Jake said.
However, he says the shrinking has since plateaued. He says he's now looking for a new chemotherapy combination to boost the process again. Jake continues chemo in the hopes that the tumors will shrink enough to have debulking surgery at the University Hospital in Minneapolis followed by a stem cell transplant.
"We're just living day to day and trying to keep it normal for the kids and enjoying each day," Jake said.
Jake has stayed optimistic and there is hope in his treatment. He, Laura and their two young children, two-year-old Boston and one-year-old Scarlett are trying to stay strong.
"We don't know, with the future being so uncertain. We just want to make sure that our children are taken care of," Laura said.
Again the benefit for Jake Carlson is this Saturday, April 27, from 3-6 p.m. It will be held at Skyline Lanes in Hermantown and with your admission ticket ($10 adults/$5 kids 12 & under) you will be entered to win the grand prize of an iPad!
You can also donate to the Boston and Scarlett Fund at the Hermantown Federal Credit Union.