June 5, 2014 is when my whole life changed. That’s the day I was diagnosed with cancer.
My name is Jackie Custer, and I was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL, which is a childhood cancer of the bone marrow and blood) when I was 16 years old. (Read more about her treatment in this blog post at the Showers Family Center for Childhood Cancer and Blood Disorders.)
Early into treatment, I had an allergic reaction to one of the chemotherapy drugs, which caused a stroke. Six months of physical, occupational and speech therapy helped me recover.
Having cancer was one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to go through, but I can proudly say that I have been cancer FREE for a year and a half now. I currently study at the University of Mount Union majoring in Middle Childhood Education, with concentrations in math and science. I’m also minoring in Chinese. In my free time I like to play basketball and spend time with family and friends.
On Cancer Survivors Day, a lot of emotions run through my head. I think of the long hospital stays, the chemotherapy, the sleepless nights, and all of the awful side effects. But I also think of the amazing doctors, nurses, and support system I have had throughout my journey.
Akron Children’s Hospital is my second home and everyone who I’ve come in contact with there is like my second family. I am forever grateful to be here today.
For anyone who is going through cancer or a similar situation, I would tell them to always keep a positive attitude. You can’t always control what happens to you, but you can control your attitude towards the thing that happens. I think always looking for the positives in every situation and setting goals for yourself is what will get you through any tough situation.
Happy National Cancer Survivors Day! Special thank you to Dr. (Jeffrey) Hord and everyone at Akron Children’s who make the tough times a lot easier.