LIVEr Champion

Meet our 2020 New Jersey LIVEr Champion, Jack Torres

A dad of three, a husband, a grandpa of six, a brother, an uncle, a friend, he was all. The hardest worker our family knew. This is our grandfather, Jack Torres.

It was a long journey which all started on July 7th, 2018, when our grandpa’s voice started getting very raspy, and within a few days, he lost his voice completely. After many medical appointments, he was diagnosed with laryngitis. Little did my family worry…we received the news that would change our lives forever.

After multiple scans, and a lot of blood work, on September 14th, the doctors called with the results that our grandpa had Laryngeal Cancer, a cancer in the voice box. He underwent radiation for 33 days, at Hackensack Medical Center. Finishing radiation on November 27th, 2018, his voice was still gone. On December 14th, after spending a night baking cookies with his grandkids, his voice finally came back! It was a miracle. A little later, the doctor gave our family the happiest news we could receive! The cancer was cured!

Shortly after our family received that news, our grandpa went to Mountainside Hospital, after many scans and bloodwork, within 3-4 hours, the doctors diagnosed our grandpa with stage 4 liver cancer. The doctor also advised us that he only had 3-6 months left, the worst news our family could receive.

You see, our family isn’t the family to lose hope, and we persisted that we needed more opinions. After finding out that the cancer was as bad as they said, my grandpa started treatment. February 21st, he started chemotherapy. He continued treatment for 20 treatments.

A short while later, father’s day rolled around, and we all got news that his blood pressure kept going down, we knew that it was time to say our goodbyes.

My grandpa lost his fight with cancer on June 20th, 2019 at 65 years old.

No matter how much pain he was in, during this whole process, he always kept a big smile on his face. We remember our grandpa, Jack Torres, today as a fighter, and one of the best people you could have ever met.

For all of those fighting liver disease, and all those families that have been affected by liver cancer, as my grandfather would say, always remember “better days come.”

— By Juliana Scricco, Liver Champion’s granddaughter

Meet our 2020 National LIVEr Champion, Philip Kennelly

Philip was born in July 2013, and he was seemingly healthy at first. He had some jaundice in his eyes, but we were assured this was normal and it would soon fade away. Finally, at six weeks old, I insisted that this was not going away, and they finally retested his bilirubin. We received a call later that day telling us to go to the emergency room. After many tests, and a biopsy, it was determined that Philip had Biliary Atresia. At eight weeks old, he underwent a procedure called a Kasai, which serves as kind of a “temporary fix” that allows bile to drain from the liver.

Philip spent the next two years in and out of the hospital. He couldn’t sleep at night and would scratch himself so much that he would have open sores all over his body. He also developed portal hypertension, which caused him to have esophageal varices and GI bleeds. In February 2016, Philip had a GI bleed, only a week after an endoscopy showed he did not have any varices that looked concerning. It was determined that with the unpredictability of his bleed and the itching getting even worse, he should be listed for a transplant. But according to his blood work, his PELD score was not high enough to get him transplanted any time soon.  His team suggested looking into living donation, so we discussed it as a family and we decided that Philip’s dad, Dan would get tested first. And he was a match!

On May 10, 2016, they were wheeled into the operating room and our lives were forever changed. Both are doing great since the surgery. Dan sometimes forgets he even had surgery. Philip has had a couple of bumps along the way, but the transplant has allowed him to start kindergarten this past year and keep up with his peers. He is a typical six-year-old boy who loves cars and playing with his brother. You would never know all that he has been through if we didn’t tell you.

– Kim Kennelly, Mother of Philip

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