Prelude from Sabrina: How bittersweet! Who wouldn't LOVE to see their child's name in the paper for his or her accomplishments. Well, he made it for one of life's biggest accomplishments I can think of, overcoming cancer!! Here is an article and photo that appeared in today's local paper. Please keep in mind that the camera adds 100 lbs!!! (Smile)
Ready To Move On After Cancer Scare - Brevard NC - Transylvania TImes (Local Newspaper)
High School seniors, May 31, 2013, will forever be a special day as
they walk across the stage with their classmates, receive their diplomas
and embark on the next chapter in their lives.
17-year-old Zack Fisher, May 31 is the culmination of a battle that
began exactly one year ago and tested the resolve of himself along with
his entire family.
While most other seniors spent the past year
finalizing plans for college, struggling to complete senior projects and
enjoying their final days at BHS, Zack’s life was an endless series of
hospital visits, blood tests and chemotherapy sessions as he fought
against Ewing’s sarcoma, a very rare strain of bone cancer.
is the son of Frank Fisher and Sabrina Kensinger. Apart from his size –
6-feet-5-inches tall and weighing just over 300 pounds – Zack is a
typical teenager who enjoys hanging out with friends, has a passion for
working on cars and trucks and, by his own admission, is known to be a
bit of a risk-taker.
“I’ll do pretty much anything once, and if I don’t kill myself doing it, then I’ll probably do it again,” Zack said.
“He’s pretty much been trouble since the day he was born,” Kensinger said of the couple’s only child.
Zack certainly lives his life to the fullest, all that changed on May
31, 2012, when Kensinger, going off what can only be considered as
mother’s intuition, discovered a lump on the back of her son’s leg.
the family at home and settling down for the night, Kensinger said she
was in her bed reading when a premonition led her to go check on her
“My friends always tease me about being a witchy woman, but something just told me go and say goodnight to him,” Kensinger said.
she entered his room, Zack was laying face down on his bed resting. It
was then that Kensinger noticed the lump on his leg, something Zack said
he had noticed but simply thought nothing of.
After going to
Urgent Care the next day, physicians told them they weren’t sure what
the growth was, but they were sure it needed to be removed surgically.
the surgery had taken place, a local pathologist thought the growth
might be a cancerous tumor and sent the results to Cleveland, Ohio, for
It was three weeks later when the family got
the devastating diagnosis of Ewing’s sarcoma. For Zack’s parents, the
news hit with the force of a sledgehammer.
“I was just absolutely
numb,” Kensinger said. “I remember Zack basically had to guide me around
for those first couple of days after the diagnosis.”
Zack’s father summed up his emotions in just one word: terrified.
been scared before but that was by far the strongest emotion I’ve ever
had,” Fisher said. “I just kept thinking, ‘This isn’t happening.’”
sarcoma is a rare disease, afflicting less than five out of every
million teenagers between 15 and 19 years old. It has no known cause,
though it is prone to strike males more than females.
While his parents were understandably in shock, Zack said his main emotion was anger.
“I was really just mad, most of all because it was finally my senior year,” he said.
the diagnosis was confirmed, Zack began chemotherapy sessions shortly
thereafter. The sessions were done in Asheville, under the care of a
doctor who previously worked at St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital, a
leading children’s cancer research center, for 17 years.
underwent chemotherapy for three weeks of each month. Two weeks were
outpa-tient treatments, but one week required him to stay in the
hospital. Throughout the ordeal, Zack maintained a matter-of-fact
attitude and said the only thing on his mind was going through treatment
and moving on.
“I really just wanted to get it over with. Every time I went in for treatment I just couldn’t wait to leave,” he said.
said her son’s willpower was something most nurses said they rarely see
among young cancer patients, but those who know him well said they
wouldn’t have expected him to respond in any other way.
always taught him not to let things get to him, so his resolve wasn’t
that surprising,” said Fisher. “We always said, ‘There’s always an end
somewhere. It may be hard to get to, but there’s always an end.’”
with a defiant attitude, the chemotherapy took a toll on Zack and he
would experience bouts of nausea and sickness following some of the
For his parents, the process of watching their son go through such pain was the worst part of the ordeal.
hardest part was watching my son deteriorate physically,” Fisher said.
“Watching his hair fall out, watching the shadows appear under his eyes
and never go away, watching the way he lost out on some of his dreams.”
However, in typical fashion, Zack maintained his resolve, as if he simply made up his mind that defeat was never an option.
remember there were a few times when I would fall apart and Zack would
just hug me and say, ‘Mom, it’s going to be OK,’” Kensinger said.
the long hospital stays and exhausting rounds of chemo, Zack said he
was mostly sad that he didn’t get to have the normal experiences of a
high school senior.
He completed the necessary coursework to
graduate through homeschooling, though he jokingly admitted there was “a
lot of procrastination” involved in the process.
completed his final round of chemotherapy earlier this month and test
results indicate he is now 100 percent cancer-free.
actually on our way from the doctor’s in Asheville when the nurse called
us and said, ‘(The tests) aren’t only clear, they’re crystal clear,’”
Ewing’s sarcoma is known to be an aggressive form
of cancer and in many cases it returns even after a period of remission,
so Zack will continue to be tested and scanned every three to six
months to ensure it does not return.
Zack said he feels fine
physically and if it were not for the hair loss and a scar on his left
chest from a port being inserted so doctors could administer the chemo
drugs intravenously, there would be no indications he ever had cancer at
Zack plans to attend Blue Ridge Community College and eventually would like to go to the Nashville Auto-Diesel College to work toward becoming a mechanic.
His family says the past year has been a roller coaster of emotions, one that has given them a new perspective on life.
learned that life is very fleeting,” Fisher said. “You’ve got to take
every little bit and enjoy what you can because you never know when you
won’t have that any more.”
Kensinger said she wanted to use her
family’s experience to help others and also bring awareness to the need
for blood platelet donations, something that undoubtedly played a major
role in saving her son’s life.
“There’s a lot of local blood
drives but to donate blood platelets you have to go to the Red Cross in
Asheville and there’s a real shortage of supply,” she said.
said his son’s graduation would be bittersweet for him as he’s watched
him overcome so many obstacles in the past year and now move on to start
life on his own.
“It’s going to be a little sad to see him
graduate,” Fisher said, “because it means that he’s now a man. I’ve
taught him all that I can and now it’s his turn to apply it in his life
but he really has a great example in himself after all he’s been through
and all that he’s overcome.”
If life was a script, there could
perhaps be no better ending to this chapter in Zack’s journey than
coming full circle this Friday, from one year ago and facing the biggest
challenge of his life to walking the stage, graduating high school and
celebrating a victory greater than most will ever know.
wavering, never complaining and never asking why, Zack said he’s ready
to turn the page and return to a sense of normalcy, daredevil spirit and
“Me and my friends, we say it all the time, ‘We’re idiots.’
We do crazy things and sometimes one of us ends up getting hurt. I’ll
probably cut down on that just a bit, but other than that I plan on
going on like everything is normal,” Zack said.
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