Jack Robinson of Milton looks like an average 13-year-old. He likes to play tennis, sail, hang out with friends and spend time with his new puppy, Hank.
Jack isn’t your average teenager, however. He was diagnosed with osteosarcoma, a type of bone cancer, in February of 2011, when he was 11 years old. While he was in chemotherapy, he self-published the joke book ‘‘Make ‘Em Laugh’’ to help other kids fight cancer through laughter.
‘‘I decided to do it because jokes made me laugh and took my mind off of being sick,’’ he said. ‘‘What’s cool about it is that lots of kids contributed to it, not just me.’’
He’s modest, too. He prefers saying that he ‘‘edited and compiled’’ rather than wrote the book because he collected jokes from other patients.
Jack came up with the idea after benefiting from a joke book his cousin gave him.
After compiling jokes that he liked, he wrote a letter asking children in treatment at the Jimmy Fund Clinic to send him their favorite jokes.
He also placed a shoe box on the clinic’s check-in counter, where pediatric patients submitted about 200 jokes on slips of paper.
The box stayed at the clinic for a couple of months, and every week Jack would collect the submissions, then sort them into categories.
‘‘It was pretty hectic. I was really tired all summer due to treatment, but I really wanted to write the book,’’ Jack said.
He read the jokes to his mother, Tisa Hughes, who typed.
‘‘It was a great, happy distraction,’’ she said.
Jack also made the chapter headings and added the names and ages of the children who submitted jokes. He collaborated with family friend Jeff Dinardo, a children’s book designer, for the book’s illustrations.
Since this summer, Jack has been selling ‘‘Make ‘Em Laugh’’ on createspace.com for $8.95. A hundred percent of the profit benefits cancer research.
Jack has called and emailed hospitals all over the country to make sure his book gets in the hands of children who need a good laugh. Children’s hospitals in Dallas, Miami, Boston and New York City, just to name a few, requested 50 copies.
As of August, 700 copies of the book have been sold, 520 of them donated to the hospitals on his list.
Late last month, Jack was scheduled to take part in the 12th annual WEEI/NESN Jimmy Fund Radio-Telethon to tell his story.
Jack finished his active cancer treatment for bone cancer and is currently in the monitoring mode. He’s looking forward to starting the eighth grade and playing tennis — and telling a few jokes.