Childhood Cancer Heroes

You are here

Jake McKee

Click the images to see them larger above!

Learn more about

Get the facts about Ependymoma and how our research projects are making a difference.

Learn More »

Strong doesn’t even begin to define Jake. As he was entering second grade in the fall of 2012, his parents thought he may have the flu and took him to SickKids Hospital in Toronto. Jake’s mom, Patricia, was confused when doctors sent Jake for a CT scan, but when the results revealed swelling in his brain, she understood why: her quiet, kind-hearted boy had ependymoma. Jake endured two surgeries to remove the cancer cells from his brain and faced lingering side effects, including right-side paralysis. Despite needing to relearn how to walk, talk and swallow, Jake continued to smile.

Life was mostly normal for about a year. Then, a routine MRI gave Jake more bad news: the same cancer had grown six tumors on his spine. This time, doctors said surgery wasn’t an option. Jake began radiation treatment, but Patricia found a neurosurgeon willing to try surgery. It was successful, but Jake developed permanent drop foot, a condition where he lost the ability to raise his toes. Two years passed before Jake relapsed in both his brain and spine. Another surgery followed. Then, in 2017, another relapse.

With their options dwindling, Patricia discovered that Jake qualified for a clinical trial led by a researcher funded by Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation (ALSF), Dr. Ted Johnson. One thousand-mile problem remained: the trial was in Georgia.

“We were prepared to sell the house and do whatever we needed to make it to Augusta,” Patricia said. Selling the house wouldn’t be necessary though – Dr. Johnson was determined to help Jake. An oncologist arranged for MRIs and blood work in Toronto to avoid that extra expense and in February 2018, Jake was set to begin the trial. But getting to Augusta remained a problem.

Dr. Johnson mentioned that ALSF offered travel assistance through their Travel For Care program for families in situations just like theirs. Jake’s family was doubtful at first, given the repeated travel across borders, but were blown away by the program. Without ALSF covering their flights or hotel rooms, Jake’s family would’ve struggled to keep traveling. Without this support, Jake’s cancer wouldn’t have been stable for the past two years.

When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, traveling was no longer safe for immunocompromised kids like Jake. But Dr. Johnson went above and beyond expectations, arranging for Jake’s entire treatment plan to continue in Toronto. After a recent successful spinal resection that left no trace of a tumor, Jake was able to take a break from treatment by recommendation from Dr. Johnson and his oncologist in Canada. Unfortunately in October, Jake faced a recurrence and is currently in chemo.

Jake’s family is so grateful for all the support and financial assistance they received from ALSF. They plan to continue to hold fundraisers and raise awareness. Jake has dealt with a lot but lives every day with a smile on his face, knowing he can handle anything.

Information provided by Patricia, Jake’s mom
Updated December 2020



Next Hero

Donate in Honor of Jake Today!

Your donation helps to fund critically-needed research to find better treatments and cures for children with cancer.

Childhood Cancer Heroes

More Heroes

childhood cancer hero vercelee
Vercelee is known for having high spirits and even higher energy. But, Vercelee’s journey through leukemia has taught her how to slow down.
jeremiah valera
At 5 years old, Jeremiah is the youngest member sworn into the Manatee County and Miami Police Department. Although he’d rather be fighting crime, Jeremiah’s put his strength and spirit to good use in his fight against cancer.
childhood cancer hero tamiyah
Tamiyah may not have the best eyesight, but it doesn’t take much to see a bright future for this little girl. Tamiyah is a fighter, having lived most of her life battling cancer.
Camryn is a strong-willed and empathetic young woman who wants to spend her life helping kids through tough times. She recently graduated from Clemson University with a degree in recreational therapy and hopes of becoming a child life specialist.