Childhood Cancer Patient Turns Firefighter

Eric Juergen was 2 years old when his sitter noticed one day that he wasn’t in the mood to eat or play—he just wasn’t acting like himself. A visit to the pediatrician’s office ultimately led the family to Texas Children’s Hospital.

Eric Juergen was 2 years old when his sitter noticed one day that he wasn’t in the mood to eat or play—he just wasn’t acting like himself. A call to his mother and a visit to the pediatrician’s office ultimately led the family to Texas Children’s Hospital.

There, an x-ray confirmed that Eric had non-Hodgkin T-cell lymphoma. A tumor the size of an adult fist was sitting against his heart.

“Dr. ZoAnn Dreyer, our oncologist, and the surgeon got Eric into surgery within two days, and his tumor was removed,” said Eric’s mother, Nita. “The care was so exceptional and the people were so amazing that I rarely remember the sad parts of Eric’s treatment. Mostly good memories of that time flood my mind.”

There were 2½ years of chemotherapy and many months of follow-up treatment. Soon after, Eric was cancer-free.

“I do remember many, many days spent at Texas Children’s Hospital as a child, and I remember being told that I couldn’t do a lot of things,” Eric said. “But after my treatment ended, I was extremely active and have remained that way. I played four years of high school football, and I fight fires for a living, if that says anything!”

Today, the 25-year-old firefighter looks back on his time at Texas Children’s Cancer Center with a lot of gratitude.

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