Photo captures ‘beautiful' moment between young cancer survivor and his doctor
ATLANTA - Jacob Moore of Alpharetta lives a pretty typical 16-year old life.
"He's happy," his mother Heidi Moore says "He's doing all these things with his life. He plays baseball, he plays music. He reads books."
But getting to this point hasn't been easy.
"It was very intense for 3 and a half years," says Heidi.
Growing up with both Down syndrome and autism, at 10, Jacob was diagnosed Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia, or ALL, a life-threatening blood cancer. His mother says he was immediately admitted to the hospital at Children's Healthcare of Atlanta.
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The family was in for a rough ride.
"Children with Down syndrome don't react to chemotherapy the way a typical child would," says Heidi Moore.
"He lost all his abilities. He couldn't walk. He couldn't eat. He couldn't go to the bathroom."
Jared, Jacob's younger brother, was just 8 back then.
"I didn't know the complexity of the situation until I saw Jacob lying in the hospital," Jared says. "I just remember looking into Jacob's eyes and I could tell something was off."
At the AFLAC Cancer Center at Children's Healthcare of Atlanta, Dr. Glen Lew was Jacob's oncologist, the doctor who steered him through more than three years of chemotherapy and hospitalizations.
"He has overcome battle after battle after battle," says Dr. Lew.
The connection between patient and doctor took a while to forge.
"I think at first, I don't think he trusted me or liked me very much," laughs Dr. Lew. "But I think over time, he trusted me and got used to me. He tolerated me."
Fast forward 6 years, to the February 2016 day Jacob came to the AFLAC Cancer Center for what would turn out to be his final checkup with Dr. Lew.
"I think I said, 'Congratulations, you don't need to see me anymore,'" says Dr. Lew.
Dr. Lew explained to Jacob he was no longer a cancer patient, he was a survivor. And it was time for him to join Children's cancer survivorship program.
It was an emotional moment, says Heidi Moore. Jacob worried he would never see Dr. Lew again.
"Dr. Lew went over to him and grabbed his hand and just said, 'Jacob, it's going to be okay,'" remembers Heidi.
"We're just going to see each other socially now. Just not at the doctor's office," Dr. Lew told him.
"It was just a beautiful moment," says Heidi Moore. "I just happened to take my phone out and take the picture of the two of them holding hands."
In the photo, their heads are bowed, as Jacob absorbed the news.
Heidi shared the photo on Facebook, then Children's Healthcare of Atlanta shared it again on its pages.
"Within the first hour, they had a 1,000 likes," says Heidi. "And it just kept going and going and going."
Days later, she posted another photo of yet another milestone. It showed a beaming Jacob, dressed in a tuxedo, going to the prom with his striking best friend.
At 16 he's surviving, in style.
"I don't know if there is very many adults who would go through what he's been through and still have a smile on his face," says Heidi Moore.