Cancer, I survived it.
It’s said quite often, though many people still refuse to take life seriously, that one day things might not be like you think they will and someday, it might just happen to you.
I recently spoke to a girl I used to go to school with. We weren’t particularly close friends, however it was a bizaare shock for me to find out that just two years ago, Jenna Adams was diagnosed with cancer, and as surreal as it felt that this could happen to someone I had known for so many years, it was a very real situation. Jenna, now 20, cancer fighter and survivor, never thought it’s happen to her, especially at such a tender age. This is her story…
Where it began…
Siobhan: What were you doing before you became ill?
Jenna: I was on holidays from college, I had just finished my first year of studying a diploma of massage therapy and was getting ready to start again. I had just started working at Hungry Jacks.
Siobhan: How old were you when you were diagnosed and what date was this?
Jenna: I had just turned 18 when I was diagnosed on the 12th Feb 2008.
Siobhan: How did you find out the news that you were sick?
Jenna: My family is very close with my local GP and because I had already gone back to Brisbane, he rang my mum and told her the news and then she had to ring me and let me know.
Siobhan: What were you diagnosed with?
Jenna: I was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukaemia (ALL).
Siobhan: What were your thoughts when it happened?
Jenna: My first thought were – “How can this be happening?” and “It cant be real!”. It was the biggest shock of my life.
Siobhan: How did your family feel?
Jenna: Everyone was shocked, upset and angry that this could be happening.
Siobhan: What kinds of treatment did you have to go through and did you have a choice?
Jenna:I always had a choice in whether I wanted treatment or not, but it was either have the treatment they wanted to give me or die. I started off with high dosages of chemotherapy. I had 6 rounds of that and then a bone marrow doner was found for me, so I then went through another small dose of chemotherapy and three days (two hours a day) of Total Body Irradiation (TBI) to prepare for the transplant.
Siobhan: Was there anything or anyone in particular that gave you strength to get through the times when you were at your worst?
Jenna:My family was always supporting me and helping me get through anything, but because they lived so far away they couldn’t be there all the time. My boyfriend at the time (now my husband) was at the hospital with me everyday, making sure I was ok, bringing me in normal food when hospital food didn’t seem so appealing, and keeping me company.
Siobhan: I know that it can’t have been easy, and you havebeen so tough and stayed positive through it all, and so many people are proud of you and your strength. Did you ever have doubts or were you just giving it your all to get better with the best attitude you could have?
Jenna: I think you always have doubts in the back of your mind but I just needed to push them out of reach otherwise I think it would’ve driven me crazy. There were some days when things got to be too much but my family, friends and my husband were always there to get me through anything.
Siobhan: Do you have a different approach every day now, having been through that experience?
Jenna: I have a very different approach, it makes you realise you’re not going to live forever. So do as much as you can and spend it with people you love. Life’s too short to hold grudges or to be around people who bring you down. I try to avoid anything that is going to put me at more risk of getting sick again, I don’t smoke, I go to the gym regularly to keep fit and healthy and I am guilty of having a few drinks every now and then, but my alcohol consumption is relatively low.
Siobhan: What else do you like to do with your life?
Jenna: I like to travel when we can, I spend as much time with my family and friends as I can, and I like to make my life the best it can be.
Siobhan: Tell me about your family.
Jenna:I love animals so I currently have two dogs – a kelpie x cattle dog named Coda and a Border Collie x called Yogi, two cats – Fuzzy and Lily, and two bearded dragons – Spud and Genie. We love our animals like they’re our kids. Words cant express how wonderful my family is. My dad has recently been diagnosed with a cancerous brain tumor. He had most of the tumor removed in surgery and has been receiving radiation and will soon be having chemotherapy, so my family have had to start the battle again. It makes me so proud to call them my family when I see all the love, strength and support we give each other. My husband is the most loving, kind, supportive, generous man I have ever met, I am thankful everyday to have him in my life.
Siobhan: What is the most important thing in your life?
Jenna: My family and Friends – we work hard and we play hard.
Just before you go…
Siobhan: People often think something simply ‘won’t happen to them’ and don’t take time from their lives to prepare or consider what may lay ahead. Is there anything that people in general can do to reduce their chances of such extreme illnesses?
Jenna: Just avoid anything that could put you at risk of such illnesses. Quit smoking, limit your alcohol intake, eat healthy and stay active. Its really not that hard to maintain a healthy lifestyle! Also getting all the regular check ups at your doctor really helps, pap smears, mammograms, everything!
Siobhan: What can lip readers do to help support cancer victims?
Jenna: Donate to fundraising groups. Stop and take a second to listen to people trying to raise money for such causes instead of walking right past. Every dollar helps towards finding a cure, so that other young people don’t have to go through what I did.
Thanks so much for sharing your time and your story, Jenna. Getting people aware of what’s out there is a real challenge but such valuable information in helping to make a difference. We here at lip wish you all the best for the health of you and your family!
For more information on Leukaemia, visit: http://www.leukaemia.org.au/web/index.php
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