I love meeting other childhood and young adult cancer survivors because my fellow cancer survivors really “get” me. They have been through so many of the same things I have been through. They truly understand all the challenges that come with being a long-term cancer survivor. Most of all, their camaraderie is so life-affirming and heart-warming.
Today I want to introduce you to Jillian Morris-Jenkins, my friend and fellow cancer survivor. Jillian is the longest living survivor in the world of stage four neuroblastoma.
Jillian was diagnosed with cancer at the tender age of two, and underwent two major surgeries, heavy doses of chemotherapy, full body irradiation and a bone marrow transplant. All those grueling treatments made it possible for her to be cancer-free at the end of treatment.
Her successful treatment allowed her to move on and become something of an overachiever. She graduated high school at the age of 16. She currently has an Associates degree in Liberal Arts and Sciences, a Bachelor’s degree in Cinema and Television Arts and is in the process of completing a Master’s degree in Apparel Merchandising. A creative and artistic person by nature, she has pursued work in the advertising, entertainment and fashion industries and is currently self-employed as a wardrobe stylist.
Like me, she has also had to deal with her unfair share of various late and long-term effects from her cancer treatments 27 years. Recently, she was diagnosed with a brain tumor that has doubled in size in the last two years. Her medical teams have scheduled her for a life-saving surgery on June 6, 2011.
Complicating her stituation is her lack of medical insurance. Her past cancer treatments make it almost impossible for her obtain individual coverage on her own due to pre-existing medical conditions. She finds herself in the untenable position of needing to ask for financial help from family and friends to raise the money needed to pay for this life-saving surgery scheduled at the UCLA Medical Center in less than a week.
She promises that once she is healthy and whole again, she will pay it forward by raising money to help her peers at the UCLA-LIVESTRONG Survivorship Center of Excellence. She plans to give back by starting a non-profit organization that will raise funds through fashion and creative arts to assist fellow cancer patients and survivors like her.
She recently shared with me, “The decision to perform this surgery was short notice but is indeed necessary. I have found the courage and strength to fight and I will preserve my rights to live a life of longevity.”
Would you or someone you love like to bask in the light of the Cancer Survivor Spotlight here at The Fight Like a Girl Club? Please contact me with your story for consideration.
This article is intended to convey general educational information and should not be relied upon as a substitute for professional healthcare advice.