September 5th is dedicated to our hero Jennifer
My life has been blessed with many changes and lessons. When I was little, my father came to the U.S. in search of a better tomorrow for his family. Two years later, after missing him so much, my mother and I came to the US and reunited with my father, leaving my two older brothers in Mexico. Two and a half years later, I was happy to have my entire family reunited here in California. We were finally complete and were a very happy family. I have always been a very active teenager. During three of my years at Santa Ana High School, I was involved in dance and was moved up to the advance dance team, I participated in the cross country running team my Junior year along with the Song Pom team. I would get normal pains throughout my body, but I figured it was just because I was so physically active. After my graduation of high school in 2012, around the month of November 2013 I began to feel abnormal pain. I was 19 at the time and I noticed a change on my left leg that would get in the way of my regular activities, from normal chores to my job. I had to stop working because the pain would make me nauseous and my left knee would get so swollen and hurt if I tried to walk or even step on my foot. I tried everything I could think of with the help of my parents to get me well. From home made remedies to a clinic, yet, we were unaware of the drastic change that was on the way for my family and I.
We went to the clinic to get my leg examined. There I was given several injections to help ease the pain and was sent to get an MRI. They completed the MRI and we waited what seemed like an eternity to get the results. My nights were sleepless and I knew something was not right. I would constantly tell myself it was just the medicine. Finally, we went to hear the results of the MRI. The doctor said she could not believe the results because of my age and that she suggested we get a second opinion with a doctor close to CHOC hospital. I was very curious to know what the results meant so I began to research the medical terms. I looked up all the terminology on Google and once I read the definition of “osteosarcoma mass” I was in disbelief. I denied it for a long two months and I would watch movies like “Now is Good” that would scare me and cause me to cry as I was filled with the fear of dying. I never imagined it would be this stupid disease and I couldn’t tell my parents what I thought I knew it was. I would have sleepless nights because of the pain.
On Monday, January 6, 2014 we were finally taken to the hospital to meet with the doctor. As I exited the elevator I realized I was the youngest of all the patients in the room. Once I was called in, the doctor examined me and after a couple of x-rays, he confirmed I had cancer. I received the news in a way I wish no one would receive it. The doctor explained everything and told me not to cry when the oncologists come see me since there is no time. I would need to be strong and receive chemotherapy and have my leg amputated. I remember walking out of his office like I was in a movie or a nightmare, all I wanted was to wake up and open my eyes to reality. As I gathered with family, we all cried a lot. My godmother gave me her blessing and encouraging words. My brother Gus and my best friend joined me as I cried. Monica came to my house to pray for me and that all helped me a lot.
I was taken into surgery to have a catheter placed inside of me followed by a biopsy of my left knee. There, I met my now surgeon who explained everything to me and helped me prepare for the choices ahead. I met a couple of amputees and after overcoming a couple of months of depression, I decided to make my decision. I received several rounds of chemotherapy during the months of January to April. The side effects were horrible, I felt like I was dying instead of getting better. I would get blisters in my mouth that wouldn’t let me eat for weeks, relying only on ice chips. I chose a surgery called Van Ness Rotation Plasty that cosmetically, doesn’t look like any other, but if it meant that it would save my life, I would do it. I didn’t care what people would think about how I would look, if people would stare and talk as if I was a freak, I didn’t care about anything other than myself. I had the support of both of my families, my relatives and all the amazing people I have met at CHOC, from doctors, nurses, assistants and everyone in between. A year passed by and my results showed I was clear. I had survived! Now, I am a young adult whose life is just like anyone else’s but with modifications. Today, I celebrate my 22 birthday and being cancer free is my reward for being strong and winning the battle. I will never forget the little warriors who are now in heaven and those who are currently battling, I pray for you all. Cancer at the end taught me a lot of things, medically and life lessons. I was able to meet so many great people. Cancer was able to take a part of my body, but it couldn’t take me.