Suffering from ear pain on her fourth birthday, Jackie Mullen's parents (Julie and Steve) thought it was from a collision in her party bounce house. Although the doctor reported no ear infection, Jackie continued to suffer each night for a week before the doctor reversed that diagnosis and treated her with medicine for a month.
Lack of progress and some bleeding led them to ear, nose and throat specialists plus an MRI, which confirmed that Jackie had a cancerous tumor in her skull bone that was pressing on her ear drum as well as her brain and had broken through the ear canal. Following a biopsy, it was confirmed that this was Langerhans' cell histiocytosis (LCH), a rare disorder primarily affecting children under age 10.
A take-charge, energetic and vibrant girl, Jackie regularly helps the nurses in the Jimmy Fund clinic access her port for chemotherapy and sometimes role plays her treatment regimen with stuffed animals at home. Jackie also loves to dance. She takes ballet, tap and creative movement classes when she can and often draws an audience when showing off her moves. Unfortunately, she no longer attends pre-school, but keeps some play dates with friend
Always the ones to help others, Julie and Steve needed to start thinking of what was best for Jackie and her two brothers - Nicholas (8) and Zachary (2). With Steve out of work, they started Jackie's treatment with no health insurance until Mass Health kicked in. To make ends meet, Steve picked up plowing jobs and is going back to school for a building supervisor's license while Julie makes jewelry, babysits and teaches CCD. Being connected to the Joe Andruzzi Foundation through a friend and receiving financial assistance for both a mortgage payment and a BJ's gift certificate during Christmas time was incredible.
"We feel very fortunate to be supported by great people," said Julie Mullen. "Jen took a big weight off of our shoulders to get through the holidays. I also was truly touched that she asked so much about Jackie and made a personal connection."
"What Jen and Joe do for the community is extremely generous," said Steve Mullen. "We would do anything to continue supporting our family."
Enduring a tough regimen, Jackie maintains a cheerful disposition. She continues to engage everyone she meets and freely shares her opinions when asked. Jackie looks forward to feeling better and returning to school.