When I met Jacob Cachia – aka Titanium Man – for the first time about a year ago, he didn't seem to be any ordinary teenager.
Instead of receiving disgruntled answers to my boring questions, I suddenly found myself chatting to this bubbly and constantly smiling teenager who seemed genuinely interested in my recovery story.
And the thing is Jacob isn’t an ordinary teenager.
Jacob and his family have lived through things most of us don’t even live through in our worst nightmares.
It’s difficult for me to summarise their amazing survival story but his ever-supportive mother, Sarah, wrote a book called Jacob: My Titanium Man, co-written by Kristina Chetcuti, and the book’s blurb sums it up in the best way possible:
“The amazing story of the boy who survived against all odds, becoming an inspiration to thousands and a beacon of hope for survivors everywhere.
When in January 2013 Jacob complained to his mother that he had a splitting headache, she thought he was down with a winter cold.
Within days he lay unconscious on a hospital bed, and had had half his skull removed. Jacob was fighting for his life, against meningoencephalitis: an infection of the lining of the brain and the brain substance.
“If we don’t operate, he may die, if we operate, he may die," Jacob's parents were told.
Doctors told Sarah to prepare for the worst. But she refused, instead she promised him that one day he would be an old man sitting on a bench telling his grandchildren the amazing story of how he had fought his battle and won. Jacob's whispered answer was, “Mummy, you tell my story! Write a book and tell my story!”
This is the story of a boy who survived against all odds, who became the life and soul of every event, who inspired his family to set up Survivors Malta, offering a space for people going through traumas to share their pain and give each other the motivation to carry on.
This is the story of Jacob, the Titanium Man.”
Jacob’s mother Sarah actively supports other survivors on a daily basis through Survivors Malta – what they realised through their own trauma was highly needed for families who have endured or are facing hardship and ill health – and she always says that you can either choose to be bitter or be better in the face of difficult circumstances.
And it’s hard to put into words to what extent Jacob’s family have chosen the latter after what they went through.
Apart from their positivity which shines through their words and faces, they have also done a lot of good and continue to do so.
Apart from setting up Survivors Malta they are also in the process of making another of Jacob’s dreams come true through Jacob’s Brew – Pay it Forward.
Jacob’s dream is to own a coffee shop.
But just as Jacob is no ordinary teenager, his dream coffee shop is also no ordinary coffee shop: he also wants it to be a haven for families facing trauma.
So that’s what this family-run business will be because Jacob and his family have witnessed first-hand that it’s always great medicine when Survivors meet.
The coffee shop will also implement a pay it forward initiative whereby customers will be given a token offering free-flowing coffee to pass on to another family going through a trauma who they feel may need a coffee and a chat.
They have other great plans for the coffee shop – and pretty much any plan I’ve ever heard Jacob and his family discuss involves helping others.
And to me that just sums them up.
They have been through so much but not only come out of it stronger and so impressively positive, but also with a huge passion to help others.
And as their joy radiates through each time I see them, I was curious about what makes Jacob and his lovely mum, Sarah, happy.
So I asked them a bit about it.
And this is what makes Malta’s very own Titanium Man happy:
1. I will be happy when my coffee shop finally opens
2. Challenging myself and achieving my goals
3. Helping others
4. Meeting new people
5. Travelling and experiencing new cultures
And this is what makes his Mum happy:
1. Priority is making my children happy; Keeping the smiles upon their faces. If they are happy then so am I.
2. I cannot not mention Jacob’s Brew. Fulfilling a dream makes me happy; my son’s dream has now become my dream as much as his. It will be hard work, but so so worth it!!
3. I’m a great believer in PAY IT FORWARD. Nothing can be more rewarding than surviving a trauma. I am eternally thankful for my blessings and will never grow tired of paying it forward to those still facing their trauma in whatever way I can.
4. My book Jacob – My Titanium Man is a best seller. I’m happy not because it sold well, but because it has inspired countless readers enough to pass it on to somebody else to read. The thought that it may help that someone who may be facing a hardship makes me happy!
5. I just feel so blessed to have my family whole again. Life is so precious. Each and every new day has its worth. I treasure every new memory that I share with my family. Looking back on those memories makes me happy to see how far we have come and I look forward to how far we still have to go!
Jacob and his sister and parents have taught me so much through their amazing story of trauma, recovery and doing anything possible to give back to others facing trauma.
It’s no wonder Jacob is seen as a Maltese superhero.
He truly is a superhero and he’s surrounded by a family of superheroes!
To find out more about Jacob, Survivors Malta and what they do, visit their website here.