Yes, I am a two-time cancer survivor and stem cell transplant recipient. But I am much more than that. I am Jam, and I am 11 years old.
After thinking about my experiences at Children’s for this article, I realized I had a page full of heartfelt, fun-filled memories and only a quarter of a page filled with painful ones.
The bad memories made me think of how I kicked cancer’s butt. Twice. Cancer and I have parted ways, and Children’s is and will always be my lifesaver. I have been poked, examined, x-rayed, isolated and woken up at all hours of the night at the hospital, but that never stopped me from being strong. I never gave up the fight, and neither did Children’s. They are the reason for my extraordinary journey.
Besides my parents, there are bucket loads of people who have made a difference in my life and recovery, but the most important ones are Dr. Elaine Morgan
and oncology nurse Maureen Haugen. Together, they have fought this battle alongside me for the past seven years. I look forward to seeing them and I trust them. It is special to have doctors and nurses that I can call my friends.
The hardest part about spending time at Children’s is being isolated. Isolation (an infection control measure
) can kind of feel like the hospital’s version of jail. It is very hard to spend time being cramped in a tiny room that you are forbidden to come out of, but it isn’t all bad. The peace and privacy of the rooms are heavenly. Art and music therapists
would visit me during my isolation stays, and besides being entertaining their visits made me feel calm and consoled. I would always play the song, “What is Love” on the synthesizer, and some of the artwork I created while in the hospital is displayed in my house.
Now that I am up and running, our family has found a way to give back. Each summer we host a blood drive and a block party on our street to celebrate the anniversary of my stem cell transplant. I feel so honored and thankful for the huge number of people who come and donate blood. It is important to give blood if you can, because it saves lives. I know it saved mine.
Cancer does not define me. I am not cancer. I am strong. I am a “Cancer Warrior.” I am a fighter. I am not scared of cancer. It is smaller than me. It is not intimidating. I am a survivor.
This article first appeared in the winter 2010 issue of Heroes magazine.