Young boy who inspired many passes away from cancer.
Jacob Fierro, christened “Baby Jacob” by the community which held fundraisers and bone marrow drives in the hopes of helping him survive, lost his battle against leukemia and lymphoma Friday night.
Funeral services are planned Thursday at 9 a.m. at Forest Lawn Hollywood Hills and the public is invited to attend.
Jacob’s father told KHTS that his son’s struggle started in January when he had cold-like symptoms and was having trouble breathing. After a bone marrow test, his diagnosis was confirmed and the young boy started a regimen of chemotherapy. He celebrated his second birthday in the hospital, but Anthony Fierro said his son was always in good spirits.
The beginning of the end came at the end of summer, when a bone marrow test came back clear.
“The lab said they weren’t able to find anything, which is a sign of remission,” Fierro said. “But Jacob’s doctor told us that he had a lot of disease in his lower abdomen and he might benefit from one last chemotherapy. It was an experimental drug, but the way the doctor explained it, he said why not give it a shot. He told us he would try it if it was his kid.”
Fierro said that Jacob spent a week on the drug with no side effects, but the day after he was taken off the drug, his white cell count started climbing.
“The doctors told us there’s not much else we can do, but that entire week, we were cautiously optimistic. I guess hope really has a weird way of not dying until there’s no hope anymore.”
The last week of September, Jacob’s pain increased, as did his intake of morphine as he got more and more uncomfortable.
“Thursday of last week, the doctor had a conversation with grandma and told her it’s going to be either today or tomorrow,” the young father explained. “She stayed with us in the hospital and Jacob was fortunate enough to pass away with her sleeping right next to him. He passed away at 2:20 Friday morning and now we’re at home trying to piece our lives back together.”
Asked to describe his son, Anthony Fierro fought back tears.
“He was cheerful and strong, all the way to the end of his life,” he said. “Even when he was in extreme pain, he would say thank you to the nurses and kid around with them. He had a profound impact on all the medical people who worked on him, even the maintenance staff came by and asked about him. They’re shutting down the pediatric oncology unit at Kaiser Woodland Hills on Thursday so the staff can go to his funeral.”
The family has struggled financially through the last year, not just from Jacob’s medical bills, but the uncertainty of the housing market. Fierro works in the mortgage business and has been doing what he can from the hospital. Friends have set up an account at Mission Valley Bank (the Baby Jacob Fund) to accept donations for the family.
“You know, Santa Clarita as a suburban community has a tendency to be a little disconnected, but to see this valley come together as they have for one little boy is amazing,” Anthony said. “It was a tremendous privilege to be his father, I feel I was blessed to be his dad and learn from what he’s taught me and our family and I have abundant gratitude and thanks for his life and what his life brought to us through the community.”
“When parents of children come to me and they say ‘What can I do?’ I say ‘Just love your kids every day, love them as passionately and as hard as you can.’ Don’t sweat the small stuff. This experience has given me perspective that will do me good. You don’t get pissed off anymore when people cut you off on the road and when people are mildly insensitive, you figure, ‘whatever'."
Anthony Fierro has another reason to be hopeful. His wife, Jave, is expecting a child in May or June.
“It definitely sets a tone,” he said. “While the sun is setting on one chapter of our lives, it’s getting ready to rise on another.”