This year has been very trying for Westville eighth-grader Jimmy Coros and his family.
Coros endured a pair of surgeries for a Mucoepidermoid, a carcinoma in the salivary gland. He's currently in stage three of his cancer battle, and he recently finished radiation therapy.
At this point, he's cancer free, and it appears 2013 could be a much better year for both Jimmy and his family.
Denise Coros, Jimmy's mother and a licensed practical nurse, noticed a lump below her son's jaw in December of 2011. Antibiotics and other measures didn't take away the lump. A biopsy was done in March, and the results came back negative.
Dr. James Turk, the family's ear, nose and throat specialist, still wanted to remove the tumor. The surgery took place in mid-August. Ten days after the surgery, the tumor was found out to be malignant.
"It was kind of hard to process at first," Jimmy said. "It was very frustrating, but I knew I had to deal with it."
After labor day, a second procedure was done to clean out lymph nodes and tissue to determine the cancer marker. He started radiation treatment in Mid-November, going weekdays at 7 a.m. to Northwestern Memorial Hospital, and returning to school after 11.
Throughout most of the process, Jimmy's parents consulted with him first.
"He dealt with everything in a very mature manner," Denise said. "At some times, there were no answers.
"He was very in tune with the doctors, asking a lot of questions."
But, he also showed signs that he was still a kid.
"He asked a lot about whether he could still play basketball," Denise said. "He still wanted to be able to play."
At first, practices and games were somewhat difficult for Coros, who was still trying to gain his strength. In time, he's returned to the game.
"If I didn't stay active, it might have been a lot worse," Jimmy said. "I used to be a little chubby before I started both track and basketball. I've stayed positive."
Jimmy Coros has also seen what his situation has done to his friends, teammates and the community.
"I just realized how much we brought out of people; how much everybody was willing to support us," he said. That was pretty important to me."
Middle school coaches Jeff Kurth and Scott Enos, and basketball parent Krista Watkins organized events, including a fundraiser as part of the Dec. 10 game against South Central.
"The stands were pretty packed, and I couldn't believe I was at a middle school game," said Denise, who addressed the crowd during an intermission. "The monetary gift was great, but it was the love, compassion and human spirit (on display) that was just as important."
Varsity boys coach Rob Walker gave up his hair as part of one of the funding drives. Daring to do this, he received the most donations. The shaving was part of the high school's homecoming pep session a few days later.
Walker went to high school with Jimmy's uncle, Mike McGlothlen, and the two remain friends.
"It wast great that he was willing to give up something for me," Jimmy said. "It seemed everybody wanted to do something."
Coros plans on playing his last four basketball games of the season, then focusing on the mile for the spring.
"I feel like I have the strength to do it," he said. "I have a different look on life now, and I feel good about the future.
"It's amazing how much people care. All the support keeps my attitude positive."
This column solely represents the writer's opinion. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.