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Alexander is a videoJournalist in the Palmerston North/Whanganui region for NZH Local Focus

Local Focus: Pahiatua's Jacob Pringle fights cancer only seen in adults

Fourteen-year-old Jacob Pringle is in the fight of his life.

He's the only teenager in New Zealand to have battled peripheral T-cell lymphoma, an aggressive form of cancer requiring urgent action after it was finally diagnosed in January this year.

"He was immediately rushed to Starship Children's Hospital by a private jet, which he thought was the bomb," said Jacob's aunt Renee Pringle. "Mum, not so much, so there was excitement in different ways all around."

The family's ordeal started last December, when a lump appeared on Jacob's chin.

"They [the doctors] said 'Oh you've got a cyst,' and we we're looking at it like, 'hmm, no, we don't think it's a cyst,'" Renee recalled.

After spending five weeks going back and forth with local doctors trying to find an answer, they were sent to Palmerston North Hospital, where Jacob had multiple scans, which were then sent to Starship Hospital.

"Then Starship was like 'right, we want him here'," said Jacob's mum, Janet Pringle.

Once in Auckland's Starship Children's Hospital, Jacob was diagnosed with a rare lymphoma cancer which typically affects 50-60 year olds. This diagnosis is a first for any child in New Zealand.

"There's a relief in giving it a name," Renee said. "Even though we didn't understand it, it was like, 'Okay this is what we're dealing with, now we can deal with this'."

Because it is a type of lymphoma whicht is aggressively active, it grows quickly.

With the last cycle of chemo next month, the next step will be trying to get back to some normality.

However Jacob, who also has Asperger's syndrome, has managed to find something positive in even the darkest moments.

"I just like being happy. I like thinking silly thoughts, so I stay happy," Jacob said.

"Even when there is something that sounds super serious, I think of something super silly."

The family hasn't fought this journey alone - the Pahiatua community where they live has been helping every step of the way.

"He's an amazing kid and he's touched a lot of lives already," Renee said.

"I think maybe this is part of his journey and his place in the world, that is to teach us something."

Jacob's family have set up a Givealittle page to help them through these tough times caring for Jacob.

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- NZ Herald

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