A 7-year-old Finn Hill boy who has bravely battled leukemia for the last 20 months with the support of his family, friends and neighbors has been named honorary chair of the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society’s annual Winter Pineapple Classic 5K fun run in North Bend on Nov. 10.
A student at Carl Sandburg Elementary in Kirkland, Jacob Schaub was diagnosed with leukemia in February of last year, a week after his sixth birthday. He had been suffering stomach pain for weeks and had lost his appetite, and was finally rushed to the emergency room at Seattle’s Children’s Hospital.
His blood was full of cancerous white cells, and doctors discovered an orange-sized mass of cancerous cells close to his pelvis that had been causing the stomach pain.
“It’s nothing you really can prepare for,” Sofia Schaub said Thursday. “You just deal with it and try to find the good things everyday and enjoy the good things. I will always be kind of in a fight mode.”
Jacob, his mother Sofia, father David and 5-year-old brother Simon are from Sweden and came to Kirkland four years ago. Two week’s after their world was turned upside down, a new addition to the family arrived, Lucas.
Jacob underwent a long, hard year of intensive chemotherapy, and responded well. Now he is back at school and in a maintenance phase of home chemo.
“My favorite subject is math because I like numbers and I also like PE,” Jacob said.
His mom said Jacob has held up remarkably well through very trying times.
“He has been dealing with it amazingly well. Children don’t think the way we do,” said Sofia. “The hard part is when he’s on steroids, it changes his mood. But he hasn’t been that sick. His hair is still out, but he was like, ‘Oh, that’s OK.’”
Said Jacob: “I hate cancer. To have cancer feels different. Cancer makes you feel you can die, but I say no to the cancer.”
To help deal with the stress, Sofia took up running, and ran last year’s Winter Pineapple Classic. So this year Jacob was invited to be the chair of the event, a fundraiser for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society’s Washington/Alaska Chapter.
“I needed to do something,” Sofia said. “I needed some break from all the hospital visits. So I started running.”
Two weeks ago Sofia ran the Nike Women's Half Marathon in San Francisco. "That was a big accomplishment," she said.
When the society asked the family if Jacob would like to help out on the fun run, they didn’t break stride in answering. “Last year it was really fun, so we said ‘Yeah, why not?’”
But another part of the story is how neighbors and friends responded to the need of the Schaubs, here thousands of miles from the support of their own family and relatives in Sweden.
“The first year was horrible for us,” said Sofia. “It’s been really wonderful, the help we got from the community. All our family is in Sweden. All the people helping us are friends.”
Meals were prepared and delivered. A web site was created to raise awareness of the need, and a fund was established to help with medical expenses.
Still, it’s been tough. Soon after the fun run, the family will move back to Stockholm. “I feel like with everything that has happened, we do need the family to help us,” said Sofia.
The 7th annual Winter Pineapple Classic is at Mountain Meadows Farm Nov. 10, and is a Hawaiian-themed fun run event, which features an obstacle course of surprises. Last year it attracted more than 2,900 participants and raised more than $450,000 for the fight against blood cancers. Over the last six years the Winter Pineapple Classic has raised more than $2 million. Learn more by clicking here.
Editor's Note: The quotes from Jacob Schaub in this story came from a Leukemia and Lymphoma Society press release.