Dear Jack

Zachary S

Active LifeList Participant

My name is Zachary. I am a 21 year old college senior at R.I.T. On September 13th,  I was rushed to the hospital after vomiting and passing out. Multiple tests showed a mass in my heart, restricting blood flow back into my body. Further tests confirmed my cancer was back for the 3rd time: rhabdomyosarcoma, a cancer of the soft tissue.

Unfortunately, I am not a stranger to this disease, having been diagnosed with it at 8 years old (just eight months after my dad passed away from an unrelated illness), and then again at 15 years old.  I overcame cancer twice before and I want to dedicate my time to creating video games for kids who are struggling with health issues and grief. I feel video games helped me conquer cancer in the past, by keeping me connected to my friends and providing an emotional escape from my pain and loneliness. This time, the cancer is even more serious because of the location. Tumors in the heart are rare and extremely dangerous. On September 29th, 2022 I was transported to Stony Brook University Hospital on Long Island by Angel Med Flights, where I remained hospitalized until December 10th. Three months in the hospital had taken a toll on both me and my mother. Being widowed and my sole caregiver, my mom has had to bear the effects of cancer emotionally, physically and financially. 

This is my third cancer diagnosis in 13 years. I was supposed to graduate early in January of 2023 from RIT with a degree in video game design and development and because I relapsed, this is now something I had to put on hold.


Zachary’s LifeList:

  1. Create a form of animation to help children struggling with health issues and grief


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