Support keeps pouring in for Texas guard Andrew Jones. By Wednesday afternoon, more than $100,000 had been raised to help with medical and necessary family expenses after it was announced that Jones had been diagnosed with leukemia.
This week, Nick Paquette and Leah Vann pitched in with the kind of support that can’t be measured in dollars and cents: stories of survival.
Like Jones, Paquette is a college basketball player, a guard at Division III SUNY New Paltz in New York. He was diagnosed with chronic myeloid leukemia last April, and returned to the court in November after months of intense treatment and rehabilitation.
“We’re now more than halfway through our season, and I feel the best I have in two years. I have energy again. I can dunk again. I feel rejuvenated, fresh and ready to go.
I do take a strict regimen of pills every day to keep my white blood cell count from multiplying again and visit my doctor for a checkup every few months, but my body has gradually adjusted to the treatment and the number of abnormal cells in my blood continues to decrease. I still experience a little more fatigue or soreness than I used to after practices and games, but it’s nothing I can’t handle.
What’s more, battling leukemia has provided me with a sense of perspective that I lacked before. I appreciate it every single time I wake up in the morning and every single time I set foot on the basketball floor. I don’t take losses quite so hard now because just being able to play feels like a victory.”
Vann is a sports writer for the Globe Gazette in Mason City, Iowa, and a University of Texas graduate. She survived a fight with acute myeloid leukemia that lasted from November 2010 until June 2011.
“No, I was not a 6-foot-4 basketball player for a Division I program, but as an athlete, I felt too prideful to be dependent on others, or a human-carrying chair on wheels.
Likewise, when people see athletes receive a cancer diagnosis, they picture an invincible human with tremendous physicality — a beacon of victorious health.
From one leukemia patient to another, that’s not the reality.”
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