Individuo
Jessica-Ashley
Canadá
Experiencia

In 1991 I was diagnosed with Leukemia at the age of 6 years old, in those days technology and medicine was nothing compared to what we have access to today.  My parents had to make a quick decision to choose between current medicine or a new one that just came out. I ended up being part of a trial research.

I almost died 3 times.

On the day that my parents brought me to the Montreal Children’s Hospital, the nurses didn’t know what was wrong with me at first. Honestly, I don’t think I would be alive today if it wasn’t for this one Doctor who just happened to walk past my room and decided to come inside to take a closer look. She noticed the blood cells were visible on my arms she knew right away it was serious and told everyone to leave the room.  A few days later, I was diagnosed with Leukemia. Talk about being at the right place at the right time! I am sooooooo forever grateful to that Doctor.

Battling cancer for 3 years of my life as a child was really tough, not only for me but for my family too.  My mother, father and older sister stood by me every second of the way, my grandparents would visit me every week to bring me my favorite food (because I wouldn’t eat any of the hospital food), my uncle would send me a cartoon in the mail that he drew every day to cheer me up.  The huge support I received from them was what pushed me to get through it all and I don’t think I could have fought it any other way.

I went through a large number of bone marrow tests, LP (Lumbar Puncture), platelet transfusions, chemotherapy and a blood transfusions- it was the worst.  The medicine was strong and made you feel really weird. I was going to lose my hair from the chemo. My mom sat me aside to explain what was going to happen, she told me it is like the change of seasons; in autumn the leaves fall from the tree and then grow back in the springtime, this is the same thing that will happen to my hair.  I also had a port installed in my chest so that the nurses could take blood because I would kick and scream when they would come to poke me with needles in the middle of the night.

Because I was in and out of the hospital very often, I missed a lot of school, but even my peers and teachers would come to visit me and make videos to wish me good health.  Nurses from the hospital would come to talk to the other kids at my school to explain what was happening to me.

We were the kids on the 8th floor of the Montreal Children’s Hospital, I remember this boy Steve who was 13 years old at the time was also being treated on the same floor as me, his mother barely came to visit and he was constantly alone.  My mom felt horrible and would go be with him every day to cheer him up and to feel loved. Unfortunately, he did not survive.

It wasn’t all bad, I remember a lot of good times.  The nurses were amazing and did a lot to take care of us around the clock, my mom was very involved in bringing music therapy to our playroom, we did a lot of arts and crafts and played games together.  I met my best friend Dianna there,  who I am still friends with to this day; she is literally my second sister and it is truly something special to have someone who you can relate these experiences with.

The Children’s Wish Foundation granted me a Wish and organized many fun events for us around the holidays and made sure every kid received a gift at Christmas.  One year we boarded a plane and were told that we were going to the North Pole to visit Santa. The flight took off, we were in the air when we heard big thumps and rattling on the roof, Santa and his Reindeers landed on top of our plane and he walked through the front curtain! We couldn’t believe it, I swear it was the most magical moment as a child- I never forgot it.  

Today I am 25 years cancer free, life is amazing and this is the first time I’ve written my story to share with the entire world <3

I hadn’t considered beating cancer as an accomplishment but as something that you just don’t talk about because people would just get awkward.  Even though I have a scar on my chest, I would just brush it off when people asked about it- until one day a few years back, it literally hit me while talking to a complete stranger -  I BEAT CANCER- I got a second chance at life and I shouldn’t take it for granted, this truly is a real blessing. This realization also helped me reevaluate the people who surrounded me at the time and to focus on the ones who bring positivity and to live and do things that make me happy.  Don't give up!

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