Mack is a 6-year-old boy with a big smile and an even bigger heart.

"You don't know he has cancer, because he is such an upbeat child. He always has a smile on his face. He'll always make friends wherever we go, we're in the elevator and he's making friends," said Mack's mother, Amanda.

More than a year ago, he began to complain of leg pain. Mack is a tall boy and it's not unusual for children to experience growing pains, so his parents weren't alarmed.

"It wasn't until he developed a knot on the side of his knee that we sort of got concerned. It was getting to the point where you couldn't touch it," Amanda explained.

An X-ray, MRI and multiple tests later, Mack's family thought they had a diagnosis.

"They told us it was osteomyelitis, which was a bone infection caused by breaking your bone. Mack has never broken a bone," said Amanda. Despite thinking the diagnosis was unusual, Mack's parents went with it.

"They put him in the hospital to give him IV antibiotics, and he got worse. He kept, just deteriorating right in front of us. He kept a high fever, he couldn't eat, couldn't even go to the bathroom," said Amanda.

Another battery of tests found Ewing sarcoma.

His parents received the news on December 23, 2015. Mack's doctors wanted him to head to St. Jude Children's Research Hospital immediately, so the next day, Christmas Eve, Mack's family traveled to Memphis. 

"They started working on him right away to try to fix him, because he was in bad shape. And we found out later, if we hadn't have come here when we did, he would have died. Because his kidneys and his liver had shut down completely," said Amanda.

Mack is gaining ground. The cancer in his bones caused him to lose his leg, but it's a decision he helped make.

"We do not keep anything from him. We tell him the pros and cons of everything, and he said, 'Just chop it off. Just be done with it.' Because it's a lot less heartache to him without it than it is with it. Either way his life will be forever changed," said Amanda.

It's been a hard journey not just for Mack, but for his parents.

"When he got diagnosed, Ryan and I didn't talk about it. We just said, you know, we had that look like, 'We're going to do everything we can to fight for this.' I mean, it's your child. You just do it," said Amanda.

They've found comfort in their faith and in the support of family and friends.

"I had my moments. And I put everything aside for him," said Amanda. "I mean, if I'm upset, he's upset. And he doesn't need to be upset. So I put my feelings aside and we just deal. You know, if we have moments, I walk away and have my moment, and I come back and we just grind it and go. It's just how it is. I mean, you do anything for your children. That's just what you have to do."

The care and support at St. Jude helps the family, too.

"It is like a safe haven. I mean, without this place, Mack would not be here."

The hopeful, fun atmosphere at St. Jude keeps things upbeat for the patients despite their struggles.

"He doesn't mind doing his appointments. He doesn't mind doing the lab work or the therapy here. I mean, he doesn't even care to be in the hospital. I say we're in the hospital and he's like, 'Alright, what games are we playing this time?' I mean, it's to the point where they make everything worth living," said Amanda.

Donations to St. Jude through fundraisers like the 2017 Chattanooga Dream Home help make it all possible.

"We don't have to pay anything for St. Jude. No money for medicines, no money for treatment, no money for stay, no money for food. I mean, I, the words, again, can't describe how thankful I am," said Amanda. 

Your $100 ticket or donation of any kind helps families like Mack's stay together and focus on getting better. 

"I think that's contributed to a lot of Mack's attitude and Mack's happiness. So he's not depressed. I mean he's just happy as he can be."

CALL NOW | 1-800-750-6962

This year’s $650,000 home is located in the beautiful Eagle Bluff Woods community off Highway 58 in Chattanooga. At more than 4,000 square feet, the four-bedroom, three-and-a-half bathroom home is the largest Dream Home in Chattanooga to date and the first to include a basement. The home and several other prizes will be given away on Sunday, June 25 during a special broadcast on Channel 3.

Tickets are available online, by phone at 1-800-750-6962 or at Regions Bank locations in Tennessee. Georgia residents can purchase tickets at a Regions bank location in Tennessee or by phone only.