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Photo by Gary Yonkers Photography, Augusta, Michigan

By Jeff Steers
JTV Sports

(January 18, 2024 8:00 AM ET) In a case of mother knows best a hockey injury turned into a cancer diagnosis for Jackson United player Jacob Burbank.

But it appears as if doctors have a handle on the cancer.

The Western High School sophomore is halfway through chemotherapy and doctors expect the tumor to possibly be operated on this spring.

But in early December when Jacob was experiencing shortness of breath, mother Charity knew something had to be done.

“He was hit in the shoulder during hockey and complained of shortness of breath,” Charity said. “We went to an urgent care, but they found nothing.

“I didn’t like the way he was breathing.”

Jacob, Charity, and his father Scott were in Cadillac for a hockey game for Jackson United at the time. Charity insisted Jacob be taken to the hospital in Cadillac immediately.

He was later taken to Mott Children’s Hospital in Ann Arbor where a scan found the tumor in an odd place. Doctors found a Germ Cell tumor – normally found in the testicles or ovaries.

Mayo Clinic says Germ Cell tumors that occur outside of the reproductive area are “very rare.”

Treatment options for germ cell tumors may include surgery to remove the tumor, chemotherapy with drugs that kill cancer cells, and radiation therapy with powerful energy beams.

Jacob just concluded the second of four five-day chemo treatments.

“I am okay with them (chemo) for about three days then I get nauseous,” Jacob said.

Scott said a CT Scan is scheduled for the first week in March to see how much of the tumor has been dissolved. It originally started as the size of a baseball, but 11 centimeters have been removed through chemo treatments, according to his family.

But not all of the chemotherapy has been a good experience for Jacob. He had an allergic reaction during one of his second round therapies causing a crash in his system.

Doctors came rushing from everywhere according to his parents.

“At that point he turned red and could not breathe,” Scott said. “They had to call for a crash team.”

Jacob woke up no worse the wise wondering what was for dinner.

Scott said doctors will decide how to proceed and what type of surgery is necessary.

“It all depends on if the tumor is small enough to take it all with surgery,” Scott said. “It is located in front of his heart and the top of the lung.”

He said doctors want to avoid cutting open the chest cavity, rather taking the tumor from the side of his chest like an appendix operation.

Jacob continues with online classes at Western High School, and he was recently cleared to skate with the team – no contact. He has lost more than 30 pounds since early December.

“I guess I have to learn to skate again,” Jacob said. “I have learned that staying positive and having good relationships with my doctors and nurses is important.”

Charity believes the hockey injury may have saved the life of her son.

“If you think something is wrong with your child be persistent,” Charity said.

A GoFundMe account has been set up for the family by Jacob’s older brother, Robert. Jackson United is also collecting money for the family for medical expenses through donations for a wristband at the front counter of each home hockey game. The GoFundMe account is located here.

Jackson United hockey player Jacob Burbank sits in the stands with his parents during a game last week.
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