GWINNETT COUNTY, Ga. - The Marines just bestowed a terminally ill Gwinnett County teenager with an incredible honor.
For the past two years, the 17-year-old has braved fast-spreading bone cancer. This month, the military branch designated Jack Lowe as one of their own.
Jack's grandfather was a Marine, his father was a Marine, and now the Marines have determined the courage Jack Lowe has shown during his cancer combat is exactly what the premier response force is made of.
Years ago, a vibrant Jack Lowe only dreamed of swim practice, and becoming a Marine.
"It's about taking on the toughest challenges, doing what no one else can," he said.
Nov. 1, in his own home, and at his veteran father's command, that wish became Jack's reality.
"I wanted to follow in his footsteps," Jack said.
It all started nearly three years ago with discomfort in Jack's leg. At first, doctors said it was just growing pains, but when it didn't subside for months, doctors asked if he'd ever broken a leg, and started questioning if Jack had a tumor.
"As soon as we hear that," the boy's father, Daniel Lowe said. "We knew it'd be cancerous."
"It was agonizing. You don't know if it's easily fixed or if this would take his life," his loved one, Arin Davis said.
The teenager kept his sights on survival with dozens of chemo treatments to eliminate a bone cancer called Ewing Sarcoma. He even rang that ceremonial bell, which usually signifies an end to a nightmare. However, from May to August, the tumors grew.
"Then they told us he's terminal and we never asked how much time he has," Mr. Lowe said.
It's difficult for Jack to stand for extended periods, but when family friends helped orchestrate a ceremony to make Jack an honorary Marine, the family says, "he sucked it up."
"I had to keep myself stable and stand at attention the best I could," Jack said.
"The general asked if he'd be able to raise his right hand to take the oath or if he wanted someone to take the oath for him and in the back of my head, I was like 'please don't let anybody take this from you dude,' so he said, 'no, I got this,'" Jack's father said.
The general removed his Eagle, Globe and Anchor emblem to give to Jack.
"The general figured he'd make me an honorary Marine because the last two years we've been dealing with this cancer it's only gotten worse," the teenager said through tears.
"But I've kept a positive attitude and a hopeful look toward the future the whole time and I'm finding spirit. That's what makes a marine."
Gen. Walker Field, the commanding general of Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island and the Eastern Recruiting Region, first told FOX 5 about Jack.
How much time is left for the 17-year-old makes no difference to the Lowes. Yes, they still hope for a miracle, and are pursuing all accessible treatments, but they've told doctors to learn from the successes and failures during Jack's cancer battle and use it to save someone else.