TWO weeks after his 17th birthday, Jack Mantova was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukaemia.
Only 12 days prior he said goodbye to his pop, who had also been diagnosed with leukaemia.
After nearly a year spent in Greenslopes Private Hospital, with months of gruelling chemotherapy and a bone marrow transplant at Royal Brisbane and Women's Hospital, Jack was declared to be in remission. He returned to his Clifton home in late July this year.
Last night Jack's mother, Linda, spoke at the Leukaemia Foundation's heart-warming awareness raising event, Light the Night. Light the Night was held at Toowoomba's Queens Park at sunset.
Jack, the ambassador for the Toowoomba event, led hundreds of participants with coloured lanterns in an uplifting display of hope and compassion for blood cancer patients and their families. Here's Jack's story - the speech spoken by Linda Mantova at the event last night.
"IT WAS December, 2013 … My husband, Steve, and I, had a happy and comfortable life, and our three children, Jack, Sarah, and Lucy were high achievers in their chosen sporting and school life.
But little did we know that our world was about to crumble around us.
Our son, Jack, complained of tiredness and a lack of appetite while we were in Sydney visiting his grandfather, who was recently diagnosed with leukaemia.
Pop passed away on Jack's 17th birthday, on December 1, 2013, and Jack was himself, diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukaemia just 12 days later.
It is hard for me to think back to that day, as I couldn't believe what was happening around me.
My seemingly fit, strong and healthy 17-year-old son was sick … very sick.
The day Jack was diagnosed we travelled straight to Brisbane and that night, he was admitted to Greenslopes Private Hospital for the start of five cycles of chemotherapy.
The Leukaemia Foundation was right there on the spot, organising accommodation for my family that night in Brisbane, and for the next 10 days at a motel nearby.
There was so much happening and so much information to absorb, it was hard to get our heads around where we would live for the next seven and a half months.
But again, the Leukaemia Foundation came to the rescue and arranged a unit for our family at the Clem Jones Sunland Leukaemia Village at Coopers Plains.
That was to be our home for the many months of chemotherapy at Greenslopes and the Icon Cancer Centre at the Mater Private Hospital, and ultimately Jack's bone marrow transplant at the Royal Brisbane and Women's hospital, and his subsequent recovery.
We came home to Clifton on July 25 this year, after what no family, or 17-year-old, should ever have to go through.
We cannot speak highly enough of the staff at the Clem Jones Leukaemia Village or the foundation as a whole.
They made life so much easier for us during a very traumatic time, providing us a home away from home and a caring ear when we needed it.
Jack is now doing well and has returned to school and his position as school captain of Clifton State High School. He is looking forward to his Year 12 formal, graduation and schoolies, of course.
So on behalf of Jack and my entire family - I would like to thank the Leukaemia Foundation for all their help on this journey."