Faith and Family: St. Jude ‘Miracle Kid’ in Springfield survives cancer twice after sister donates bone marrow
Cross Kubik returned to the pitcher’s mound on March 20. He survived cancer for a second time after receiving a bone marrow donation from his 12-year-old sister.
SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (KY3) - They call him the Miracle Kid. Doctors didn’t expect him to see his second birthday.
But Cross Kubik is a fighter, and he credits his deep faith.
“As a baby, when I got diagnosed with neuroblastoma, I don’t remember any of that,” said Kubik. “I just remember growing up with St. Jude in my life. Throughout my whole life, I would go get yearly treatments, checkups, stuff like that. And that’s really all I knew. I got to know the doctors that treated me as a baby.”
Now 17 years old, Cross survived a gauntlet of challenges. Thirteen rounds of chemo, 17 rounds of radiation, a 12-hour surgery to remove the tumor, and a bone marrow transplant, all at the age of two.
Fifteen years later, doctors gave him the “all clear.” No cancer. Because of the pandemic, they cancelled his yearly checkup at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis.
“They thought I was back to normal. And just so happens, mom had her ‘cancer mom suspicions’ and wanted me to get some lab checkups,” said Cross Kubik.
Ashley Kubik trusted her gut instinct, and she had a feeling something was wrong.
“I just said, ‘I’m worried,’ and of course, you try not to overreact. I said, ‘you know what, we probably need to go in,’ and we just kind of watched it but he just wasn’t right,” said Ashley. “My mom just kept gnawing and gnawing. So I called and asked if we could get a sports physical, a little bit early.”
After blood tests and a bone marrow biopsy, the results confirmed the family’s greatest fears. They got a call from the doctor.
“He said, ‘I’m sorry to tell you, this looks like leukemia. We’re running all the cell types. We need him here by Monday morning to start therapy,’” Ashley said.
Cross would be stepping up to fight for his life a second time. All of the chemotherapy he had as a toddler had taken a toll on his body. Doctors call it treatment-induced leukemia.
“I mean, a couple of tears were obviously shed, but I knew it was time to get to work,” said Cross.
The news came as a gut punch to Cross, a pitcher for Kickapoo Chiefs’ high school baseball team with dreams of playing college and professional baseball.
But Cross says it also lit a fire inside him.
“I knew to just put my trust in God, and just put my head down, and start working,” said Cross.
The pandemic threw a curveball that proved to be a blessing.
“There were so many things that God lined up for us. The pandemic, the school, the ability to work from home, school from home. We literally, all five of us, packed up. We moved to Memphis and never looked back,” said Ashley Kubik.
The teen would face incredible odds to save his life. First, rounds of chemotherapy. Then, he needed a bone marrow donor when the numbers didn’t look good.
“A very, very minimal chance of finding someone that was 10 out of 10. I like actually only found one person in the whole world that was 10 out of 10 match with me, and he was from Germany. And once again, because of the COVID it kinda ruined the whole plan with that,” said Cross.
The pace picked up in a new direction to find a donor for Cross. Both parents and his two younger sisters, Creighton and Crosby, got tested. Creighton came back as a 7 out of 10 match.
“I was happy, but I was a little scared because I didn’t know like, what I needed to do. I didn’t know what the donation process was going to be like,” said Creighton Kubik, the 12-year-old sister of Cross.
Because of Creighton’s young age, doctors had to make a special plea to an ethics committee to allow the donation. Then, she went through extensive testing before the transplant process could start.
“There was one week where I had to get a week full of shots, which were pretty painful,” said Creighton.
Cross praised his sister for her strength and support, “She was a trooper throughout the whole process. She was awesome.”
Both siblings say it brought them closer than they can explain. The experience also gave little sister some hefty leverage, which Cross says, “Yeah, she still uses that against me.”
“Anytime he jokes around or is like, mean to me, I’ll just say you better be nice to me, or I’ll take back my blood,” said Creighton with a laugh.
While recovering from the bone marrow transplant, Cross threw every ounce of strength into making it back onto the mound.
“I used that as motivation throughout the whole process to keep on weight and stay physically active while I was in the hospital, so it was a big deal.”
He walked the halls everyday. “Well, we did get in trouble for running in the hall one time,” his father Brian Kubik said
“I tried to walk a mile or two a day and try to get a marathon in. And I actually was able to that, and I kind of forced myself to keep walking every day. Even though I had to carry a green puke bag around every lap, I just had to do it,” Cross said.
On March 20, 2021, Cross Kubik made his comeback. He started a baseball game with a prayer.
“I mean, I’m usually not emotional. But that moment took my breath away. And I think when he took his hat off, and he prayed, I just lived in that moment,” said Ashley.
“I mean, we had thousands of people rooting for him. And, you know, that’s pretty awesome,” said Brian.
A victory, Cross will tell you, came from above.
“I talk to God every single day. He gave me his plan throughout the whole process. And I knew it was gonna work out in the end,” said Cross.
Cross plans to pursue a career in medicine, possibly sports medicine or oncology. As for his sports dreams, he’ll keep pitching for Kickapoo. But you’ll also see him taking a swing on the greens.
St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital is leading the way the world understands, treats and defeats childhood cancer and other life-threatening diseases. It is the only National Cancer Institute-designated Comprehensive Cancer Center devoted solely to children.
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