TJ was born Sept. 24th 1988 to Diane and Larry Peacock. He was a happy, loving baby who had two older brothers, Travis & Josh. The family was really into youth sports and TJ naturally followed his brothers in their athletic endeavors. TJ played soccer, football, basketball, indoor soccer & of course baseball. At 5 years old TJ scored a touchdown on the first play of his first ever football game. TJ always excelled at what he played due to his drive, he had quite a bit of athletic ability but it was his drive that defined what kind of player he was. TJ played baseball like most kids his age but soon discovered he was pretty good at it and decided to join a travel baseball team called the ‘Blaze’.
This team would become a big part of his life for over 5 years. These years were spent practicing, playing games, playing in tournaments and traveling all over Southern California. TJ played hundreds of games with the Blaze eventually playing in a tournament in Hawaii. With his time away from baseball TJ liked to hang out with his family and friends, play video games and just do anything that was fun. He loved pulling pranks on his family and thoroughly enjoyed the outcome. He was just a fun, happy, athletic kid known for his great smile and his great sense of humor.
Once TJ reached high school he made the freshman baseball team but that was soon followed weeks later by a seizure in the middle of the night. That led TJ and his family on a journey that no family should ever have to travel. TJ was diagnosed a grade lll brain tumor at the age of only 14. As you can imagine this news was devastating but we all remained strong with TJ leading the way. After the news set in and we had a chance to check our options, we knew we first had the find the ‘right’ doctor, the ‘right’ treatment for TJ. After we found the ‘right’ doctor it was it decided that TJ would have surgery followed by chemo and radiation. TJ never blinked, he had the attitude of just do it and get it over with. He was fearless and looked cancer in the eye and cancer blinked. But even going through all of this TJ remained upbeat, smiling, happy and just wanted to be ’normal’.
Spending weeks at a time in a children’s cancer ward was an eye opening experience for TJ & the whole family. During TJ’s chemo & radiation treatment he started to play golf somewhat regularly usually with a friend. Doctors told him the effects of radiation would make him want to go home and sleep but instead TJ played golf and a lot of it. His mom would take him to the course, sometimes walking along with him, or just drop him off for 18 holes. Most days he would call his dad at work and ask to play another round after his work. He was amazing and defying all odds.
TJ missed the rest of his freshman year and part of his sophomore year at school and decided that baseball was not such a good idea after brain surgery. He returned to regular PE but his dad suggested ‘how about golf?’. TJ was a little hesitant but decided to try out for the team and the coach decided he saw enough in TJ to put him on the JV team. TJ was happy; he was playing competitive sports again. This would be TJ’s new passion, he played every day for school and more after school and on weekends. His surgery and treatment had to affect his game but he never complained, never got down, always laughed and always smiled. He returned back to school regularly for his junior and senior years. Both of these years he was named ‘Captain’ of the golf team. TJ got back in the normal life of a high school kid, he got his license, got a truck, got a job, got a girlfriend and just did what 16 & 17 years olds do. TJ graduated in 2006 and made us all proud.
After returning from a family vacation in 2006 TJ had another seizure and this cancer monster had returned. This time even more serious, grade IV, and the news was even more devastating. More surgery, chemo and radiation all more dangerous than before. TJ showed the effects of his treatment but always maintained his courage, smile and positive attitude. When he felt well enough he always wanted to be doing something and he and his mom would take roads trips mostly to the San Diego area. TJ’s condition deteriorated throughout 2007 and we lost our beloved TJ on Sept. 20th 2007 after fighting so courageously and just four days short of his 19th birthday. We spent all of his teen years dealing with this possibility, while in the meantime trying to live every day to the fullest and not dwell on the monster that was just around the corner, lurking in the shadows every minute of every day.
TJ’s diagnosis started our family on a journey that would change and alter the course of our lives forever. We know first hand how the patient and family suffer. The not knowing, the uncertainty that a treatment or surgery will be the one to save our loved one.
This kind of diagnosis hits like a brick to the head. First is the feeling of being in a bad dream. After the shock wears off, the next point of business is figuring out who the best doctors are, and that is truly a matter of trial and error in many cases. Then, what is the best, most current course of treatment. It is a very difficult road and one that I would not wish on anyone. Our TJ went through all of that and more. No parent should ever lose a child for any reason and should certainly never have to make choices that are literally life and death decisions that will affect their child’s life.
TJ went through four brain surgeries, several courses of radiation over 5 years, every kind of chemotherapy the doctors could come up with, experimental treatments, alternative treatments, bone marrow transplant, gamma knife. You name it, he probably had it. None of these treatments are without risk or side effects ranging from mild to severe to life threatening. But TJ was such a trooper, he never complained and always looked to us, his parents, to take care of the details and just let him know what was next. The unknowing takes as much of a toll as the facts of this disease.
Message from TJ’s mom:
I promised my son and myself that I would spend the rest of my life making him proud and carrying on his battle so that some day we can prevent another family from suffering the way we, and many others have suffered.