- Associated Press - Sunday, March 4, 2018

ATLANTA (AP) - When the doctors told Jared Storey they had done all they could to save his life, he was “disappointed they gave up on him,” said the teenager’s mom.

“They gave up on him but he hasn’t given up. He said he’d rather die on the operating table trying than giving up.”

Wednesday, Feb. 21, Jared, a former Pine Grove Middle School student and the son of Joy Hollingsworth and Jeff Storey, turned 15 years old.

He’s spent more than a year battling osteosarcoma, a type of cancer that starts in the bones.

The boy who wanted to be a basketball player was diagnosed after suffering a pain in his left leg. It was Christmas break 2016. His mom thought he’d hurt his leg playing basketball. Instead, he had osteosarcoma in his left femur.

Jared was 13 years old when his ordeal began.

He’s undergone numerous painful treatments and surgeries. He’s had a leg amputated. He’s had tumors removed from his lungs.

When the tumors continued to grow in recent weeks, they fused in and around his spine, making it almost impossible to perform surgery, Hollingsworth said.

The tumors are growing at a fast rate, causing recent paralysis from the chest down, with numbness spreading into his hands in recent days but not enough yet, though painful, to keep him from playing video games, his mother said. The family still hopes for a special wheelchair that will support his upper body and neck.

He was placed on oxygen this past Thursday. The tumors grow, the paralysis spreads. Though he is trying a new type of treatment, the prognosis is grim.

But Jared keeps smiling.

Through numerous Facebook messages posted by his mother, Jared Storey has kept smiling, laughing, hoping and dreaming out loud, no matter the surgeries, no matter the loss, no matter the bad news.

One video, a short time after his left leg was amputated, Jared hops on his right leg, dribbling a basketball around the room. Undaunted. Indomitable. Smiling.

He reads the biblical book of Job where God tests Job’s faith. He looked forward to a late birthday celebration last Saturday when he said he will eat an expensive Wagyu steak; He’s been trying to eat food from different Atlanta, Georgia, restaurants each day, cramming a lifetime of culinary delights into a matter of months.

The family moved to Atlanta to better meet Jared’s medical needs.

Through support of a group of donors and family friends called Team Jared, he has ridden with bikers, he’s visited the set of the Avengers movie where he met several of the film’s actors, he’s had encounters with the Atlanta Hawks and the Atlanta Braves, the family has taken several day trips, he’s dreamed of traveling to Las Vegas, but he stays firmly planted, each day, every day, in today.

“Think about today and not tomorrow,” Jared said. “There is no future, just today, so you might as well live.”

He’s at the family home in Atlanta now. Palliative-care workers talk to him about preparing for death.

“It’s boring and annoying,” Jared said with a mild chuckle regarding death talk.

Hollingsworth said, “He tells them, ‘I’m not dead yet. Can’t we talk about the good things that happened today?’”

He has in recent days thought about creating a legacy to help children facing a similar uncertain future.

For his birthday, he asked people to forego giving him gifts and instead donate money to the Jared Storey Foundation. He said he wants it to accomplish for other sick children what Team Jared has done for him. He wants to give other children the chance to live a lifetime in the short time they may have.

“It’s something I’ve been thinking about for a while,” he said of the Jared Storey Foundation, which can be reached by visiting Joy Hollingsworth’s Facebook page.

The foundation promises to ensure other children the same opportunities he’s enjoyed, Jared said.

But Jared Storey’s legacy may be in the simple example of his life.

Live each day like it may be your last.

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