Blue Springs South soccer star Jacksyn McIntyre thankful to be cancer-free: 'I'm a survivor'

Bill Althaus
The Examiner
Blue Springs South senior Jacksyn McIntyre celebrates as the final whistle blows to signify the end of a 2-1 victory over rival Blue Springs in the championship of the Raytown South Tournament earlier this season. McIntyre beat a cancer diagnosis when he was 13 to become an all-state soccer player for the Jaguars.

Love, hope and faith are more than words that appear on three plaques that hang in the dining room of the McIntyre family home in Blue Springs.

They are the foundation – along with family, friends, prayers and medical professionals – that helped Jacksyn McIntyre and his family survive a cancer ordeal that is now cause for great celebration and thanksgiving. 

McIntyre, a senior all-state soccer player at Blue Springs South High School and one of the top forwards in the metro area, was diagnosed with cancer when he was just 13 years old. 

Today, he is cancer free. 

"And Thanksgiving days are very special at my home," said McIntyre, whose family and friends played such a pivotal role in his recovery.

Blue Springs South senior soccer player Jacksyn McIntyre looks over a scrapbook of his journey in the battle against cancer with his mother Kim and father Jack at their home in Blue Springs. Thanksgiving takes on a special meaning for the McIntyre family each year after Jacksyn won his fight against cancer that was diagnosed when he was 13.

"I'll never forget the day – July 27, 2016 – and my doctor told me I had lymphoma. I was 13, I didn't know what lymphoma was. So I asked, 'What is that?' And they told me a form of cancer. I asked, 'Will I survive? Will I be able to play soccer again?'" 

The answer is now an emphatic yes to both questions. 

"It's the hardest thing we have ever been through," said his mother, Kim McIntyre, who journaled the entire process, including countless photos of Jacksyn in Children's Mercy hospital with his family and friends, "but Jacksyn's strength and courage helped us get through this as a family. 

"It meant so much to him to have his family with him – day and night in the hospital – and his friends were always there. And they were just 13 or so, so their parents had to drive them to the hospital. It was an amazing time – a terrifying time in our lives, but an amazing time." 

Jacksyn McIntyre poses in this photo from Jan. 19, 2017, that he is cancer free.

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As the McIntyre family sat in their dining room, Kim brought out journals and scrapbooks that traced every moment of the journey.

"When you hear the word 'cancer,' and they're talking about your son, it's as hard and difficult a moment as any time in my life," his father Jack McIntyre said. "But he had the best care in the world – the doctors at Children's Mercy are amazing. He even became friends with a few of his doctors and members of the staff, but it was so gut wrenching." 

His grandfather, Gary Wood, was a frequent visitor at the hospital, and he quips, "Jacksyn has the greatest personality. He was a big hit at the hospital with the doctors, nurses, everyone. I think they loved him almost as much as his family – and love played a big role in his recovery." 

A biopsy was performed July 27, 2016, and a port was surgically inserted into Jacksyn's chest the next day to pump the chemotherapy drugs into his body. 

There would be on two cycles of chemotherapy – which Jacksyn called, "the bad" 2-4-6 cycles and the "not so bad" 1-3-5 cycles that administered different doses of chemo. 

"We knew he was in so much pain, and he knew he was going to lose his hair, so his older brother Austyn and Jack shaved their heads to support him," Kim said, tears welling in her eyes. "Even a neighbor and one of my former students shaved their heads to support him. We had support from so many people."

In this photo from Oct. 15, 2019, Jacksyn McIntyre shows that he has been cancer free for 1,000 days.

That included former South soccer coach Jon Grice, who is now the school's activities director. 

"We all knew how much Jacksyn wanted to return to school and play soccer, and he accomplished that goal (Feb. 11), which was inspirational to me, our team and really the entire school," Grice said. "And you look at him today and you could never tell he had a sick day is his life. He and his family are really incredible." 

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There is one tell-tale sign of his greatest challenge, and that is a one-inch razor sharp scar on his neck where the tumor was removed. 

"I know it's there, and my friends and family know it's there and why it's there, but people ask me about it, and I tell them I had cancer, and they're like, 'Oh, I'm so sorry.'” Jacksyn said. “And I tell them they don't have to be sorry. I'm a survivor and I want everyone to know that, to give hope to any little kid like I was that you can survive something like cancer." 

Jacksyn McIntyre, center, poses with his father Jack, right, and older brother Austyn after they shaved their heads to support Jacksyn in his battle with cancer. Jacksyn is now cancer free and became an all-state soccer player for Blue Springs South.

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During this incredible journey, Jacksyn simply said, "I got this!' And that became the rallying cry for his family. 

"When he was able to come home, he was our bubble boy – we wanted to just keep him in a bubble, to keep him safe," Jack said.

Last season he was named to the Class 4 all-state first team after tallying 21 goals and nine assists. He is a favorite to repeat the honor after being named to the All-Region 3 team this past week following his senior season in which he scored 16 goals and added 13 assists despite being the focal point of many an opponent’s defense. 

More on McIntyre:Cancer survivor Jacksyn McIntyre's hat trick gives Blue Springs South win in Sheridan Cup

In a moment that is usually reserved for fairy tales, Jacksyn had a hat trick in an emotionally charged 3-2 Sheridan Cup victory over crosstown rival Blue Springs this season. The Sheridan Cup is named after former South soccer assistant coach Dave Sheridan, who battled cancer and later died of complications from pneumonia.

Blue Springs South senior forward Jacksyn McIntyre (7) flashes three fingers to the sideline to signify his hat trick in the Sheridan Cup game against rival Blue Springs Monday at South. McIntyre's third goal in the 70th minute proved to be the game-winner in a 3-2 win for the Jaguars.

After the 3-2 Blue Springs victory, he said, "This one's for Coach Sheridan, for my grandma, who lost her battle with cancer; for our teammate Russell Woods, whose father is putting up a valiant fight against cancer. For everyone whose life has been touched by cancer, this is for them." 

And Thanksgiving is now a day of celebration for Jackysn, his mom and dad, brothers Bradyn and Austyn, sister Brittany and all members of his family. 

"We might be the most thankful family ever!" Jacksyn said, grinning from ear to ear.  

"It seems like such a long time ago I was that little kid, wondering if I was going to live or die. But all I thought about was how I was going to beat cancer. I beat it! And I will be thankful for that every day of the rest of my life."

Jacksyn McIntyre's journey 

• April 26, 2016 – Lump in neck 

• May 20 – Visit primary doctor 

• July 23 – Admitted to Children's Mercy Hospital 

• July 27 – Diagnosis: Non-Hodgkin's Anaplastic Large Cell Lymphoma; biopsy to remove tumor to determine extent of cancer  

• July 28 – Surgery to place port in his chest to administer chemo and to determine if cancer had spread to spine 

• July 30 – Pre-chemo treatment 

• Aug. 4 – First treatment, leads to 48 days in the hospital 

• Sept. 20 – Doctors say "total remission" 

• Oct. 20 – Returns to watch Sheridan Cup Blue Springs South soccer game 

• Dec. 26 – Discharged from hospital 

• Jan. 19, 2017 – NED (No Evidence of Disease)