My wonderful, inspirational, and beautiful world after cancer…

Being the change I wish to see in the world.

jessica-1About 3 years ago my life was changed by cancer. Throughout my battle with this terrible disease I made sure I stayed happy and positive. I never thought for one moment that I would not beat cancer.  And now I let everyone I meet know that I “kicked cancer’s butt.” I have always been a happy, positive, and confident kid. I think my cancer battle kicked my personality and confidence into high gear. I mean if your beating cancer there is nothing you can’t accomplish, right? Sometimes I think the radiation gave me super powers.

So I think Gandhi said, “you must be the change you want to see in the world.” I don’t know if I can change the world but I am sure going to try. The change I want to be is to be inspiring to anyone that needs inspiration and to use my talents to help others. I will reach beyond my boundaries whenever I can to bring about change. I will never be afraid of new experiences, and I will always educate and inspire everyone to answer the call for positive change in the world. My goal is to see cancer cured in my lifetime.

My cancer battle gave me a lot of really awesome opportunities to educate and inspire others. Let me describe to you some really cool events that I was blessed to be a part of.

jessica-2My first opportunity to speak to the public was at the Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt. I was at the hospital getting a blood platelet transfusion because my counts were down due to the effects of the chemotherapy. My hospital has this really cool performance stage where different talent performs from time to time for the patients. Well it just so happened that the annual River of Hope Radiothon by 107.5 the River was being held in the stage area where I was hanging out with my mom and a friend. Jim from the Woody and Jim radio show asked me if I wanted to announce the radiothon’s phone number on the air.  So if you know me, I will always try anything at least once. I announced the phone number which also lead to me telling the radio audience about myself.  I even had an opportunity to tell a few jokes. That was the first time I spoke to the public on behalf of my hospital. That was when mom and I realized that I had a talent for public speaking. This was the launching pad from what would be dozens and dozens of public speaking engagements.  Cool right!?

I was asked by Kris Rehm to be the Closing Plenary Speaker at Pediatric Hospital Medicine conference in Chicago this past summer. Kris is a wonderful pediatrician from the Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt. Kris had seen me give a few speeches before on behalf of the hospital and thought I would bring a different perspective to the conference. I had some help from the Cumberland Pediatric Foundation with the Power Point and videos. The title of my talk was Do You Have What It Takes to Be My Doctor.  My goal was to make this a very fun and informative talk. I wanted the audience to have a blast so I added lots of fun content. Picture this, I entered the auditorium behind the audience dancing all the way up to the stage to Eye of the Tiger, by Survivor.

 

That was a really cool moment because this was a clinical type of conference so I will bet that none of the other speakers entered dancing to one of their favorite tunes. The talk was about 40 minutes long. I had a really cool power point, that include videos of me interviewing all my doctors. I asked them questions like, why they became a pediatric doctor? And, what they liked best about their job?  I even asked each of them to tell me a funny story about themselves. My talk also included a question and answer segment where I took questions from the doctors.

Then to top it all off I left the stage to Don’t You Forget About Me, by Simple Minds with my arm in the air just like Judd Nelson walking through the football field at the end of The Breakfast Club. (You may have guessed that I love the awesome 80’s). Since I am an expert at being a kid and a patient I wanted to let the doctors know what being a kid patient is like from a kid’s point of view.  Judging from all the Tweets I received, mission accomplished! The really cool thing is that the conference liked me so much that I was asked to be the opening speaker at the 2017 conference here in Nashville. I really felt like my talk inspired the audience and maybe I also taught them something that can help make their patients feel more comfortable.

I am also an ambassador for the Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals organization. I frequently attend fundraisers and speak to groups of donors to represent the children they help every day.  The summer after my cancer treatments were finished the CMN Hospitals asked me to be a kid reporter on behalf of Extra Life, an international gaming community that raises money for the CMN Hospitals. Picture this, me standing shoulder to shoulder, with the help of an equipment box to stand on as my height adjuster, next to media reporters from outlets like Variety, AOL, and Yahoo Entertainment. I was asked to interview as many of the cast members from the movie as I could, so…. “Challenge accepted.”

I had so much fun and learned a lot that day about being a reporter.  By the end of the event all I had to say was SUCCESS! I interviewed almost every celebrity that walked down the red carpet, I even interviewed the writer and producer. Some of my favorite interviews were with Adam Sandler, Kevin James, Peter Dinklage, and Josh Gad. I even had all of the cast members wearing the Children’s Miracle Network Hospital’s yellow wristband for the rest of the event. This was a once in a lifetime opportunity. I am all about promoting organizations that help kids like me. If you are a gamer, and want to put your gaming skills to a higher use I would definitely recommend checking out Extra Life.

 

Being asked to contribute to NOU Magazine is such an honor. This is probably one of the biggest ways I can inspire many people to help work towards a cure for cancer. I may be only 14 but I have a lot of stories and experiences that I am excited to share with the readers. I hope my articles inspire the readers to get involved. I would bet that just about everyone has had their life touched by cancer either directly or by family, friends or maybe someone you work with. The change I want to make here is that I hope through my articles I will touch the readers in such a way that they will want to get involved in fighting cancer or helping someone that is fighting cancer.

I will always be the change I want to see in the world. How about you?

 

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Jessica is a 14-year-old pediatric brain cancer survivor who advocates to end pediatric cancer with a goal to educate and inspire others. Jessica is on a mission to support organizations that help children fight cancer and raise funding to find the cure. Jessica is an ambassador for Monroe Carell Jr. Children's Hospital at Vanderbilt, Make-A-Wish Middle TN, and Rally for Kids. Jessica is also the 2015-2016 Tennessee Children's Miracle Network Hospitals Champion Ambassador. Through Jessica's ambassadorship she has been featured in many national fund raising campaigns such as the "Put Your Money Where the Miracles Are," "Band Together," and as Cancer Crusher, an 18-episode Superhero-themed national PSA all for the CMNH organization. Jessica has even recently been featured with other cancer patients in the "Teen Cancer America" campaign with The Band Perry.

Jessica has a passion for public speaking. She is a showcased public speaker at many fundraising events. Recently Jessica was the closing plenary speaker for the American Academy of Pediatrics Hospital Medicine's annual convention in Chicago. Jessica has even received an opportunity to take her message to Washington DC with the CMNH Champion's Media Tour where she met with Senators and the Secretary of Health & Human Services.

Along with Jessica's love of public speaking she has also had her story featured in Hope Magazine, Look Book, and Nashville Lifestyles. Jessica has written for blogs and magazine articles for CMNH, Extra Life, and Make-A-Wish. Jessica is a skilled interviewer and continues to do on camera interviews of celebrities and donors for the organizations Jessica is involved with. Recently Jessica has been traveling as a cast member with the My 2nd Act Survivor Stories from the Stage.

About The Author

Jessica is a 14-year-old pediatric brain cancer survivor who advocates to end pediatric cancer with a goal to educate and inspire others. Jessica is on a mission to support organizations that help children fight cancer and raise funding to find the cure. Jessica is an ambassador for Monroe Carell Jr. Children's Hospital at Vanderbilt, Make-A-Wish Middle TN, and Rally for Kids. Jessica is also the 2015-2016 Tennessee Children's Miracle Network Hospitals Champion Ambassador. Through Jessica's ambassadorship she has been featured in many national fund raising campaigns such as the "Put Your Money Where the Miracles Are," "Band Together," and as Cancer Crusher, an 18-episode Superhero-themed national PSA all for the CMNH organization. Jessica has even recently been featured with other cancer patients in the "Teen Cancer America" campaign with The Band Perry. Jessica has a passion for public speaking. She is a showcased public speaker at many fundraising events. Recently Jessica was the closing plenary speaker for the American Academy of Pediatrics Hospital Medicine's annual convention in Chicago. Jessica has even received an opportunity to take her message to Washington DC with the CMNH Champion's Media Tour where she met with Senators and the Secretary of Health & Human Services. Along with Jessica's love of public speaking she has also had her story featured in Hope Magazine, Look Book, and Nashville Lifestyles. Jessica has written for blogs and magazine articles for CMNH, Extra Life, and Make-A-Wish. Jessica is a skilled interviewer and continues to do on camera interviews of celebrities and donors for the organizations Jessica is involved with. Recently Jessica has been traveling as a cast member with the My 2nd Act Survivor Stories from the Stage.

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