"There were days when we all wanted to give up"
They could not give up because Lisa and Chris Kukeck knew their son Zach didn't want to.
He was always smiling. He loved sports, and he had a great sense of humor. At age 11, he was diagnosed with a rare form of Leukemia.
He received a bone marrow transplant and was pronounced cancer free, but then Graft vs. Host Disease took control. He suffered from that for 3 1/2 years.
The disease spreads when donor marrow attacks the recipient. Days in the hospital turned into months, and Lisa spent most of her time at Zach's bedside.
"4 1/2 years she didn't stay over maybe three times, and it was like pulling teeth to push her those three times," said Chris. "Funny, a lot of those times the staff wouldn't even start things unless they knew mom was going to be there."
Zach's younger sister Ariana would visit and make him feel better by telling jokes.
Lisa said the doctors and nurses did everything they could to help Zach get better. "Zach had a really tough bacterial infection they just couldn't get rid of. There was one antibiotic they had to use that nobody had ever used on the kid population before so of course they had to use it on Zach, and he did really well with it, and it helped."
But soon, Zach's young body could not take any more.
"And that last hospital stay, about a week before he passed, he was having a real difficult time," Lisa said. "And he looked at me and said, 'Mom, my body's getting tired.' He said, 'I don't want to give up, but my body's getting tired.' And I said I know, and I said I'll be OK. Chris and Ariana will be OK too."
Chris said, "He waited for for the right time for family to ge there and see him one last time. The Packers to win... he had to wait for that."
Zach passed away October 4th surrounded by family and friends. He is buried next to his sister's school. "So she'll go there and tell him about the day. See how it went, and how different it is," said Chris.
Though just a few months have passed since he died, his family wants to share his story because of how important the MACC Fund has been to them.
Chris said they became their second family, "Just everything- the staff and money they provide in order to research and find cures and support the wonderful staff that they have there.. they did become our second family."
"And I know that they really cared for him with all of their hearts, and that means a lot to me," said Lisa. She said they miss being able to do things as a family.
The Kukeck's don't want anybody else to ever have to go through what Zach did. Lisa called his story an inspiration. "His fight and courage was such an inspiration, and he beat cancer. He beat the Leukemia. He didn't beat the Graft vs. Host and that's what we have to figure out, and they can do that at the MACC Fund."
You can join the fight against childhood cancers and blood disorders. Tune in to TODAY'S TMJ4 for the annual Sports Auction 4 MACC. It is Friday, December 11, 2015 from 3:00-5:00pm. There will be 25 sports-related memorabilia up for bid.