Meet Cancer Crusher
Jackie Custer, Age 18, from Canton, OH
On June 5, 2014, Jackie Custer learned the swollen hand she thought she sprained at basketball camp was the sign of something far more serious. She had acute lymphoblastic leukemia, a childhood cancer of the bone marrow and blood.
“When I first heard the news I had cancer, I was scared and nervous,” said Jackie. “I remember thinking how are my friends and family going to handle this news.”
To help settle fears, Jackie and her family met with several Akron Children’s doctors to explain her diagnosis and treatment plan. First, surgery to insert a port, then 6 rounds of intense chemotherapy followed by monthly chemo treatments for nearly 2 years.
After the first month of chemo, Jackie’s body had other plans.
Jackie’s body had a rare complication from the chemo that caused her to have a stroke. The stroke left her unable to walk, talk or move the right side of her body for several days.
To recover from the stroke, Jackie spent the next 6 months undergoing intense physical, occupational and speech therapy to recover.
Finally, in March 2015, a high point. Jackie was invited to attend a Prom to Remember, an annual event that matches Cleveland celebrities with teens who are battling cancer.
Jackie, a basketball point guard herself, chose Cleveland Cavalier point guard Matthew Dellavedova to escort her to the prom.
“It was definitely a night I’ll always remember…he still checks in to see how I’m doing. It’s pretty neat,” Jackie said.
Jackie was back on track.
“I was hopeful I’d get back to basketball my senior year, but then my groin started hurting me,” said Jackie. “From all the steroids I’ve been on to fight the cancer, I developed avascular necrosis (death of bone tissue) in both of my hips and my right knee.”
Jackie had a fibula (calf bone) graft to preserve her right hip. Her left hip collapsed, which will require replacement surgery later this year.
“All the support from my community, my Akron Children’s family, my own family and friends has gotten me this far,” said Jackie. “I truly believe God gave me all of this so I can share my story.”
Jackie attended her senior year at Jackson High School and has already been accepted to Mt. Union College where she’ll major in nursing.
“I’m so blessed to be here,” said Jackie. “People always think of the bad stuff when they hear the word cancer, but I’ve had so many wonderful opportunities…You never know, I may end up back here, but as a nurse caring for kids just like me.”
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