May 30, 2019

Teen back to running marathons after battling lymphoma

Hematology-oncology team ‘cares for every single kid like their own.’

In late 2016, Jacob Grimstead was riding high after completing a half-marathon with his dad on Catalina Island. A week later, the 14-year-old made an unsettling discovery: a golf ball-sized lump near his collarbone.

His parents, Bill and Sarah, examined the mass that seemed to have appeared out of nowhere and made a same-day appointment with pediatrician Nayana Patel, MD. By 5 p.m., after X-rays and blood work, Jacob was scheduled for a follow-up appointment the next day with Liesl Mathias, MD, a pediatric hematologist-oncologist, followed by more scans and a biopsy.

One week to the day after his first medical appointment, Jacob received his diagnosis: stage 4 Hodgkin’s lymphoma.

“I knew I was going to be in good hands,” said Jacob, “but just the fact that I had cancer and that it was stage 4 — it kind of scared me.”

‘The best team you could wish for’

Dr. Mathias worked closely with colleagues Kenji Morimoto, MD, and Neha Vaghasia, MD, to treat Jacob. They discussed his test results, made a treatment plan, and served as part of a broad support network for the Grimstead family.

After 5 rounds of chemotherapy, Jacob is now in complete remission and deeply grateful to his doctors, nurses, and therapists.

“They cared for me and helped me out with every single thing I needed,” he said. “They were the best team you could wish for.”