DOWNEY – Jeremiah Succar is only 7 years of age, yet he is continuing to be a source of inspiration and motivation for many, including the St. John Bosco Braves.
Jeremiah’s and his family’s lives were changed forever in late May when Jeremiah was rushed to three separate emergency rooms by his mother, suffering from uncontrollable vomiting, headaches, and an inability to keep his eyes open. It wasn’t until arriving at Miller’s Children Hospital in Long Beach that a tumor was found on Jeremiah’s brain, causing pressure.
A few days later, Jeremiah underwent his first brain surgery to remove fluid build-up and to place an external shunt. Two days after his first surgery he went under the knife again, this time to remove the tumor and biopsy the mass.
“We were warned and told the possible chances of any type of side effect such as speech impediment or memory loss,” said Jerry Succar, Jeremiah’s father. “You know there doing a pretty serious surgery in his brain.”
Jeremiah woke up with seemingly no side effects after his second procedure, however a week later he was officially diagnosed with stage four ATRT cancer, which is very rare, very aggressive and very lethal. Worse, the cancer had spread to his spine and was attacking his nervous system.
“They told us percentages and statistics, and it was just overwhelming,” said Succar. “It’s horrible to be hearing this kind of news about your children.”
Since his prognosis, Jeremiah has endured a myriad of procedures and treatments, going through his fifth cycle of chemotherapy at the time that this article was written. Jeremiah will go through more scans and a spinal tap in the coming months in order to see where he is in his treatment and where to go from there. Depending on results, Jeremiah may face 28 cycles of radiation to his brain.
Jeremiah’s story is a known one, as it gained national attention when a video of Jeremiah and singer Rachel Platten singing “Fight Song” together in his hospital room surfaced. The video, which was uploaded by Children’s LA Hospital, has over 759,000 views and 15,000 likes.
In response to Jeremiah’s and other children’s fight with cancer, his mother Jessica Frontela, along with her family and other parents of patients, created a nonprofit organization called United Fight.
“Being here in the hospital, I decided to start [United Fight] on behalf of my family and others who are in similar situations,” said Frontela. “What we’re going to be doing is pretty much reaching out, not just to the children…but to the families, making sure they have what they need and have an extra support system besides someone they already have. A lot of the times in here we just drop everything pretty much; we’re not working, and it’s hard for other people to really understand what we go through.”
United Fight’s current campaign is #SockItToCancer, where they are collecting “funky” socks and beanies for children suffering from cancer.
“[The kids] are always in their socks. You know they walk around in their socks; they live in them,” said Frontela. “From December 1st-4th, we’re going to be asking everyone to wear their funky socks…we’re going to be taking pictures and hashtaging it #SockItToCancer so that the kids here at the hospital can log on and see everyone is also participating in the day.”
St John Bosco High School is also helping out by hosting a blood drive on December 1st.
“I graduated from St. John Bosco; I’m an alumni from 2004,” said Succar. “The morals, the values, what they teach you about brotherhood; it’s not just four years. It’s for life, you always have a family.”
Succar was called by St. John Bosco asking how they could help. Jeremiah has since gotten to tour the campus and interact with students, as well as being a part of the school’s homecoming rally. Many students have also signed posters sending Jeremiah well wishes and messages of strength.
Despite his fight, Jeremiah’s parents describe him as continuing to be strong.
“He’s full of spirit,” said Succar. “There’s moments where he’s down, there’s moments where he’s full of pain. But he finds it in himself to lift his spirits up and to always look forward, and to say that he’s going to become a normal kid again.”
To participate in Bosco’s blood drive, visit CHLADonateBlood.org and enter the sponsor code JOHNBOSCO. Participants must be 17-years or older, and reservations are required. The drive is open to the public and will be on site at the high school in the Multi-Purpose Room.
For more information on United Fight and #sockittocancer, please visit unitedfight.org.