On January 7th, the Jacksonville Jaguars and Tennessee Titans faced off on the football field. With just 2:51 left in the game, Josh Allen returned a fumble for a touchdown, bringing the score to 20-16 and clinching the AFC South Championship for the Jaguars. In a suite at TIAA Bank Field, two-year-old Boonie White and her family watched with glee. But since Boonie, who has neuroblastoma, had been designated as “Jaguar for a Day,” it was not just the win—but the entire experience—that made the day special.
According to News 4 Jax, Boonie was diagnosed with neuroblastoma in September 2022. Since Boonie has autism and is non-verbal, she was unable to tell her family about the painful tumors growing in her abdomen. However, her mother Whitney became concerned by certain symptoms that Boonie was showing; a trip to the doctor found multiple tumors which have even affected her bone structure. Whitney shares that Boonie remains positive and bubbly despite these challenges—which include frequent doctor visits and chemotherapy.
The family was brought to watch the Jaguars-Titans game as a shared partnership between the Jaguars and Community PedsCare, which Community Hospice lists as:
a nationally recognized pediatric program for children in Northeast and North Central Florida living with complex, chronic, life-limiting or advanced illnesses.
During the family’s time at the game, Boonie’s name was shared on the Jumbotron. The family also met Jaxson de Ville—the Jaguars’ mascot—and John Henderson, a former player.
If you would like to contribute to the family’s GoFundMe page, you may donate here.
What is Neuroblastoma?: An Overview
Neuroblastoma is a rare cancer that forms from neuroblasts, or immature nerve cells. Normally, these develop into mature cells. But in neuroblastoma, there is some alteration of the cell’s DNA that causes it to replicate and form tumors. While neuroblastoma is most commonly found in the adrenal glands, it may also manifest in the neck, abdomen, or near the spine. This cancer is most common in children aged five or younger. Symptoms can include:
- A lump or mass in the neck, chest, or abdomen
- Painless, bluish lumps under the skin in infants
- Diarrhea or constipation
- Nausea and vomiting
- Appetite loss
- Loss of mobility / inability to move a certain part of the body
- Bulging eyes
- Dark circles around the eyes
- Bone pain and/or increased risk of fractures
- Shortness of breath and/or difficulty breathing
- Pale skin
- Abdominal distention (in infants)
- High blood pressure and high heart rate