The Cancer Center’s Story Project is an effort to capture stories from our community of patients, friends, family, clinicians, and staff who have been affected by cancer in some way. This is Jordan's Story.
- Jordan has considered herself a “frequent flyer" here at the Cancer Center. After recently graduating college, Jordan found herself back in Boston once again, this time in pursuit of a career.
- "More than any place I’ve ever went to, more than college, this place really colored my world a lot."
What have you learned about yourself since being diagnosed?
“I am a frequent flier here at Mass General. My original diagnosis was when I was 11, turning 12 the next week. One of the greatest gifts my parents gave me was not telling me I was sick. I actually didn’t know I had cancer until after my surgery was over. It wasn’t traumatic. And I think a lot of that was because I didn’t know I was even sick. So after that I came here for my first round of treatment when I was 12 and I had a blast honestly. I just had radiation, thank God. I always consider myself very lucky that I didn’t have chemotherapy and that is definitely something I learned."
"The people that you meet in the waiting room have a huge impact, and those are really strange relationships that you form and are ones that you remember for sure. It gave me a lot of perspective. I always consider myself so fortunate that I was in the situation I was in. [My cancer] will come up in the world outside of the Cancer Center, people asking about this part of my life, and the reactions are typically overwhelming, but I always kind of felt like that was undeserved because of the gravity of the other situations that I saw people go through. That was so impressive to me. I really thought I got off easy. My treatment was a piece of cake."
"My mom lived here with me when I was going through treatment, and we went to the gym and would go eat in restaurants. We had so much fun. We were very close and had a great time. I had a great impression of it. I went home at the end of my 7th grade year. I was followed with MRIs and going into my junior year of high school it was determined that I would have to go back and have another surgery. And after the surgery it was time to figure out what supplemental treatments we were going to do. At that point I was like 16 or 17 and a little bit more able to be involved in the process. I was pulling to come back to Boston because my mom and I had so much fun. There were other options. I could have stayed home in Florida but I wanted to go back to Boston. So we did and had another great time. And we got to come back and see all of the same people."
"The treatment went well and I have been well for the past 7 years. I just graduated college in May and I was looking for jobs and my mom said 'I kind of have a feeling you’ll go back to Boston.' And sure enough, my company moved me right out to Boston. One of the first places I came back to was Mass General and the Healing Garden which had just opened for my second round of treatment. I never considered myself unhealthy. I think that a huge aspect to recovery and health in general is the identity you give yourself. The minute you label yourself as a cancer patient or a victim that is a tough label to live with. However you have to sell yourself that story I think it makes a world of difference.”
What has become important to you since your initial surgery, and how has that changed your outlook?
“So one of my big mantras is that gratitude is everything. It is a really powerful place to come from. And if you are at a loss and don’t know what to feel, gratitude is a really great place to start. There is always something to be grateful for. That is something I learned. I come from a relatively religious house, and I started exploring it when I got out of surgery. It was never a 'why did this happen to me,' it was a 'how to do I use this now.' Having a feeling of action."
"A lot of the time it can be a tough thing to tell someone that you had brain cancer. And whenever it does come up, I try and soften it by saying 'it’s honestly the best thing that’s ever happened to me.' It was an incredible amount of reality to deal with. But to deal with twice before you turn twenty. So to see things for the blessing that they really are and to make that true is a lot of control to have over your own destiny. It happened and no I do not want it to happen again, but what am I going to do with it now. It teaches you a lot of clarity and control over your own destiny and that has been huge. I feel incredibly lucky to have been put in that situation and to come out of it relatively scar free. Be grateful and take control over your situation and make it what you want. More than any place I’ve ever went to, more than college, this place really colored my world a lot.”
More than any place I’ve ever went to, more than college, this place really colored my world a lot.
This interview took place on March 7, 2017 and has been edited for clarity.