Mineral Wells Index, Mineral Wells, TX

May 2, 2014

Jacob’s fight

Mineral Wells teen’s battle with large brain tumor has him fighting, but far from defeated


Mineral Wells Index

— By TYLER MASK



Chemotherapy, one of the many advances in the medical field, can be considered a scary term – especially for those having to undergo the often times lengthy process.

But what if you were just 14-years-old?

Jacob Acosta’s story begins about a year ago. The Mineral Wells Junior High nurse gave a report to the Acostas that Jacob had failed his vision test multiple times. Soon after this report, the Acostas took Jacob for an eye exam.

“He kept saying his eyes were blurry,” Jacob’s mother, Ann Acosta, said. “So we took him to Fort Worth to get an eye exam and it never would match up. The doctor just kept getting frustrated and said, ‘I just think he wants glasses because his friends have them because I can’t find anything wrong with his eyes.’”

The Acostas planned to get a second opinion, but eventually dismissed the idea. Then headaches began to set in.

“He complained and complained,” Ann said. “What teenage kid doesn’t have a headache? So we would just give him Tylenol. Well, it [began] coming more often, and it was like a steady headache.”

The Acostas resolved to take their son to a local Mineral Wells doctor. Again, a dead end.

The doctor proposed that he simply had a bad case of allergies. As a result, the doctor prescribed Jacob allergy medicine and sent him home, telling him to check back in a week.

The headaches continued.

The doctor upped his dose, believing he simply needed more allergy medication. Clearly everyone was stumped – but the third time is a charm.

Jacob returned to the doctor’s office once more, and the nurse practitioner came up with a resolution. Perhaps it was merely bad migraines. She prescribed him a different medication, sent him home, but said if things continued on, Jacob would need to get a CT scan.

“So, we gave him the medicine – he slept almost all day Sunday,” Ann said. “When he finally woke up, he was crying and pulling his hair, saying I’d rather die than go through this pain.”

At that point, Ann called the nurse practitioner who, in turn, directed them straight to the emergency room.

The next discovery would be something that would forever change Jacob’s life. The cause of Jacob’s pain? A tumor doctors would come to find measuring 39.81 millimeters in diameter.

Jacob was immediately shipped to Cook Children’s Medical Center for more testing.

“They shipped us over to [Cook Children’s Medical Center] that morning,” Ann said. “It was like 2 a.m. in the morning.”

The doctors decided to implant a shunt to alleviate pressure from fluid build, which was ultimately the cause of his headaches. Although Jacob felt some relief, doctors were faced with another problem. The location of Jacob’s tumor was inoperable being that it resided in too close of a proximity to his eye.

“[The doctors] said it would cause more damage to him than what it would be worth to find out what it really was,” Ann said.

Even now, doctors don’t know whether or not Jacob’s tumor is benign or malignant.

“They are just treating it to what they think it is,” Ann said. “They are 95 percent sure they know what it is. They don’t know. I am just like, what if the other 5 percent is really what it is? [I] just can’t wrap my mind around it.”

The tumor will never go away. All doctors can do is treat it to keep it from growing.

After the shunt was installed, Jacob got to go home for a few days before returning to the doctor to hear what the treatment options were. They were given three options: to leave it alone, undergo chemotherapy or undergo radiation treatment.

Ann wanted something done, so they ultimately decided on chemotherapy.

Every Thursday, Jacob goes into chemotherapy. Ann has already used all of her paid time off, but must endure the process for the sake of her son.

The Acostas are praying that chemotherapy will be the line, but if things do not improve in the next few months, radiation will be the next step – the last step possible.

As it stands, Jacob’s peripheral vision is marred, but the doctors are hopeful that his vision will fully recover. As time goes on during the treatment, Jacob will lose his hair; however, he has good friends who have committed to shaving their heads in his honor. To make things even harder, Jacob can’t ever play any sports requiring physical contact again – he was on the A-team in football.

Each day is a struggle, but Jacob isn’t beaten.

He feels a mixture of being tired and scared, he said, but he is trying to keep positive.

Although he cannot play contact sports, he is considering golf. He’s a musician and plays in the junior high band.

Outside of school, he loves spending time on his phone and playing “Call of Duty.” He is also also very involved in his Church youth group.

“He has kept a smile on his face this entire time,” Ann said.

Bake sale benefits for Jacob are today and Saturday. The first event is 2 p.m. today at Titan Bank, with Saturday’s event at Metro Grocery Store, also at 2 p.m.

For more information, contact Amy at 940-452-2448. There will also be a basket raffle. Tickets are available at both bake sales.