Submitted Jason Holland is undergoing treatment at Vanderbilt for Ewing Sarcoma, a rare form of bone cancer that affects approximately 200 children and young adults in the U.S. per year.


Jason Holland is undergoing treatment at Vanderbilt for Ewing Sarcoma, a rare form of bone cancer that affects approximately 200 children and young adults in the U.S. per year.

Lafayette Elementary School student Jason Holland and his family are going through the fight of their lives after he was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer called Ewing sarcoma in February.

Members of the community joined together to support the family as Holland began chemotherapy at Vanderbilt Children's Hospital on Feb. 25, a three-month road that will lead to surgery and another round of chemo and radiation therapy.

"Around Christmas, (Jason's) foot started hurting, and it got to where it swelled up," John Holland, Jason's father, said. "I couldn't get the swelling to go down, so after a few weeks, I thought we'd go get it checked out. It is metastatic. It's spread to his spine. Since it's metastatic, there's about a 25-percent five-year survival rate."

As he goes through treatment, Holland's friends, classmates and teacher are among those showing support.

"When I walked through the door (the other week), I was informed that Jason had been diagnosed with cancer over the weekend," LES fourth-grade teacher Sue Atkins said. "I couldn't believe it … the news broke my heart. He seemed to be fine the last time I had seen him."

That week, Jason's classmates continued to ask Atkins why he was absent.

"I informed the students that he was sick and asked them if they would like to make him a get well card," Atkins said. "Jason is very well-liked by all of his classmates. He is considerate and friendly to everyone."

Atkins delivered the other students' cards to Jason at a party the family held for him recently, and Lafayette Elementary School has organized a T-shirt sale to benefit the family (order forms are available from the front office).

John Holland said that the outreach from friends and neighbors has been strong and appreciated.

"Everybody in the community has been good, to the point I don't think there's anything else they can get for him," John Holland said. "They're praying for him every day."

Atkins said that Jason is dedicated when it comes to schoolwork in addition to being well liked by his classmates, and asked community members to send prayers to the Holland family.

"My students ask about him daily and wanted me to give them an update," Akins said. "I hated to tell them that Jason had cancer. I explained to them that the doctors were doing everything possible to help (him).

"The students became very possessive over Jason's empty seat. They told me they were saving it for him when he gets to come back to school."

The Holland family, which also includes Jason's older sister Katelyn and his grandfather Ronnie (among others) have prioritized spending time with him as he continues treatment.

"Instead of Jason being in school, getting ready for a baseball game or running around in the woods, he's in bed feeling sick after a round of chemo," John Holland said. "I'm not working. I'm just hanging out and being with him."

The family has moved into Jason's grandparents' home in order to be together between hospital stays.

"(This situation) has been devastating," Ronnie Holland said. "I've often wondered myself how people that have been through it have dealt with it. You have to put your faith in the Lord and let Him take care of things."

Since receiving the news roughly a month ago, the Hollands have tried to keep Jason from feeling daily pain.

"He has his good days and bad days," Ronnie Holland said. "It really hit us blindsided. He's always been a real healthy, active little boy."

The family previously faced hardship when John Holland's wife passed away years ago, and he is navigating his son's battle as a single father.

"I've sat down and had a talk with my daughter, and she understands what's going on," John Holland said. "She's tough, and real mature for her age. She lost her mom. There's no words to do justice to how you feel going through something like this. You just do what you've got to do. The most important thing is that you live, because nobody's time is guaranteed."