There’s No Stopping Jacob

Today, thousands of high school students in the Hunter will head off to school. It would be fair to say that a small percentage, if not today then another day, will battle it out with their parents about not wanting to go; fighting from the comfort of their bed, a safe-haven from which to surf Facebook, avoid incomplete homework or perhaps just to get some extra sleep.

Thirteen year old Jacob Moore from St Catherine’s Catholic College Singleton, has spent too many school days in bed, but not by choice.

Instead of battling to stay in bed to avoid school, this determined teenager is battling his parents to let him go to school because for Jacob, normality and routine, which comes in the form of school, is a luxury.

Since he was six months old, Jacob has suffered from a rare brain cancer. He has grown up with adults and a family of doctors and nurses who have supported him from his hospital bed through numerous rounds of chemotherapy, remission and radiation therapy.

“He just wants to be normal, to be treated the same as everyone else and not differently”, says dad Nigel. “He’s a modest, mature, little old man but it’s hard to slow Jacob up; he’s had a rough trot but nothing will stop him.

“If he starts chemotherapy on a Thursday afternoon, he’ll actually still try to get to school that morning because he enjoys what he does at St Cath’s. He always pushes the limits.”

Other than normality, studying and the opportunity to see his friends, Jacob loves going to school because he is able to further his passion for agriculture by doing an after-school cattle class. He was recently selected to showcase cattle on behalf of his school at the Sydney Royal Easter Show.

Growing up on the land and mustering cattle on his motorbike, Jacob says he has always had a special bond with cattle and credits the land for helping him to take his mind off things.

“I love cattle. I’ve grown up surrounded by them and have been crushed, stepped on and kicked, but I just love them and it’s great that I can work with them at school too”, he said.

A self-described “hooligan” on his bike, Jacob knows that the risks associated with riding his bike and handling cattle are even greater given his condition. “Some people want me wrapped in cotton wool but being out there helps take my mind off things. The treatment is hard. I get upset and cranky but you have to look for light at the end of the tunnel. Every time I get hurt, I’m back on my feet. It’s a risk I’m willing to take. People say I’m remarkable, but I just think I’m normal.”

Nigel says he, his wife Heidi and daughter Hannah are among the many people who think Jacob is remarkable.

“He’s had a hard life. It’s not an easy road but it’s made our family stronger and he’s so determined to make the most of every situation.”

And what does the future have in store for Jacob after school? “I want to study at Tocal Agricultural College, spend 12 months in the Northern Territory being a jackaroo and then come home and start up my own Brahman Stud in the Hunter.”

As Nigel says, “There’s just no stopping Jacob!”.

As this article goes to print, Jacob is coming to the end of his fifth round of chemotherapy and couldn’t be happier about it. His family would like to acknowledge the ongoing support of Dr Frank Alvaro at the John Hunter Hospital and all those who support Jacob.

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Emma Blackford

Emma Blackford is the Communications Manager for the Catholic Schools Office, Maitland-Newcastle and a regular contributor to Aurora Magazine.

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