Wamego’s Jace Ward fights through DIPG diagnosis to inspire others

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WAMEGO, Kan. – Jace Ward’s life changed forever last year in May.

“So I went into an eye doctors appointment and he did a few tests.”

That led to more of the same.

“After that CT scan they quickly did an MRI right after and then, basically, they told me hey something popped up in your brain scan,” 21-year-old Jace Ward said.

Then they got news they never imagined.

“The doctor walked in and he said you have an aggressive, inoperable brain tumor, and it’s not a matter of if you’ll die, it’s more of a matter of when,” the K-State junior said.

His family was shocked by the diagnosis, his mother Lisa and the doctor delivering the diagnosis of DIPG (diffuse intrinsic pontine glioma) didn’t know how to approach it.

“We had no idea that this was what the result would be, zero idea,” Lisa Ward said.

Jace wanted the truth straight up, they told him he likely had nine months to live, chemotherapy, clinical trials. And treatment started shortly after. Cancer moves fast, and the wards needed to move faster

“You know you just wanted to hide under the covers and pretend it wasn’t happening but you can’t.” Ward said.

An Jace didn’t hide, he embraced it, and became a leader

I found that there was a whole community who didn’t have a voice, I found that there was a whole community of people that had been forgotten, the standard course of treatment for DIPG hasn’t changed since like 1962 or something like that,” Jace Ward said.

Ward used his diagnosis to create a platform, he spoke before congress and conventions, advocating for more funding, and he’s inspired kids from northeast Kansas and beyond.

“All the kids, they’re all just fighters and there’s something about being diagnosed that it’s just hard to explain, your mind changes.”

He gives them a voice and he’s a fighter himself, it’s summed up perfectly by a phrase he now lives by: “I can’t die I’m busy.”

“I just kind of build on it and built on it and the mindset has kind of grown and grown and grown to where I’m not even scared of dying I’m busy you know!”

He’s flown past that 9 month mark, and he’s got no plans of slowing down now.

Two organizations that have greatly helped Jace spread his message and stay on top of what he needs to do are the ChadTough Foundation and the Dragon Master Foundation.

Dragon Master, which is based out of Kechi, Kansas, aims to:

Find and accelerate cures for cancers and other diseases by fostering and rewarding a community of collaboration and innovation. We seek to spread awareness, expedite research and kinder treatments, and improve the quality of life for patients and their families.

ChadTough works to:

Inspire and fund game-changing research to discover effective treatments for pediatric brain cancer, with an emphasis on Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Glioma (DIPG).

On Sunday, the year anniversary of his diagnosis, Jace along with ESPN analyst and commentator Dick Vitale and others will take part in a Facebook live stream event, honoring his one year anniversary of diagnosis and spreading awareness about DIPG and more. You can view that on Jace’s Facebook page: Jace Ward – Tough2Gether.

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