By Tia Lynn Ivey
A doctor pulled Mandi Martin into the hallway outside of her 16-year-old son’s Atlanta hospital room to break the news no parent is ever prepared to hear: it’s cancer. Despite the initial shock and despair, Mandi quickly summoned the only question that really mattered.
“Is it survivable?” asked Mandi. “That’s the only thing I wanted to know and when the answer was yes, then it was clear to me there was only one option–to beat this–and every day we go forward and stay positive with that in mind.”
Jacob Martin, a junior at Morgan County High School, was diagnosed with Stage 3 Hodgkin lymphoma in mid-October after experiencing fatigue and finding a lump on his shoulder and a lump on his chest. As an athletic soccer player, Jacob’s family first noticed a change when soccer practice started and Jacob was always tired and his endurance was dwindling. His parents, Charlie and Mandi Martin, took him to the doctor once the lumps were found. Within 24 hours of testing at Morgan Memorial Hospital, Jacob was sent to Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta where he was diagnosed and underwent rigorous testing to develop a treatment plan. Jacob is undergoing chemotherapy over the next six months for a total of 12 treatments. The Martin family found themselves in a whirlwind of doctors, specialists, surgeries and difficult medical decisions. But the Martins would soon learn they were not alone for the journey.
“Friends, family, the schools, the whole community really, have just shown our family such an outpouring of support and love,” said Mandi Martin. “Even total strangers have brought us food, sent donations—it’s been incredible and has meant so much to all of us.”
Jacob has been encouraged by his friends, classmates, teachers and community, who have gone above and beyond, to show their love and support as Jacob battles cancer.
“I can’t thank everyone enough for the love and support, and I appreciate it so much,” said Jacob Martin, who is resting after his third round of chemotherapy. “It really is what keeps me going every day.”
All around Madison and Morgan County, banners, signs, t-shirts, and bracelets can be seen with the words “Jacob Strong” on them. Local businesses volunteered to sell merchandise to fundraise for the family. Madison Square Nutrition sold bracelets for the family and Gussie’s House of Flowers sold gold bows for people to display in support of Jacob’s ongoing fight against cancer.
“They went above and beyond,” said Mandi. “I don’t think I could ever put into words how grateful we are, knowing that so many people here are thinking of us and wanting to help us through this time,” said Mandi. “It’s more than we ever could have imagined.”
The school system even reserved a special section of the football stadium just for the Martin family, so Jacob could social distance and still watch the football game and his sister, Hannah Martin on the cheerleading team.
“They reserved a huge section for us to ensure we could keep him safe and made the most special announcement to make him feel loved and supported. He had no idea and was completely overwhelmed with love from his high school! Thank you MCHS!” said Mandi Martin.
Mandi Martin announced on Facebook this week that after just three treatments of chemotherapy, Jacob’s tumor has shrunk by fifty percent.
“His scans show that it’s now half the size,” said Mandi. “Some days the chemo can be difficult for Jacob but seeing these kinds of results definitely keeps him positive,” said Mandi.
According to Mandi, Jacob and her family have become closer as they rally together to support Jacob in his fight against cancer.
“When you’re in this, you’re in it. There is nothing else to do and only one outcome. But of course this is not about me. It’s about the strongest person I know,” said Mandi. “His name is Jacob Martin, a child who has cancer, a child who has literally never complained about anything during this entire process, and a child who has never made me more proud in my life.”
To help the Martin family through this battle with cancer, visit the GoFundMe Page for Jacob at: https://gf.me/u/y5vaxw.