Sometimes patients receive the hard-hitting news of short life expectancies. What happens when a doctor tells you you won’t make it to adulthood? What becomes your life priority? Sometimes, however, patients defy the odds and live way passed their expiration dates. This was the case with now 28-years-old Jennifer Gonzalez.
Jennifer has been hardened after her life-long struggles with neuroblastoma, a rare cancer that forms from immature nerve cells in nerve tissue.
At 3 years old, while her friends were discovering childhood wonders, she spent an entire year undergoing rigorous chemotherapy treatments to remove her adrenal glands.
Her survival was uncertain as doctors literally told her parents that her chances were “either way.”
To add to the bad news, her parents were told that due to the medication and treatments, Jennifer may never be able to have children, if she was lucky enough to make it to adulthood.
Today, Jennifer is 28 years old, still alive, and still pulling strong. Not only is she living but she’s created life with her four young girls, including a set of twins. All are as healthy as can be.
Her traumatizing childhood experiences and fears of death have lead to her calling. Jennifer is a pediatric cancer nurse at Driscoll Children’s Specialty Center in Brownsville. She has high hopes to climb up the ladder of her career. She sees herself in the children she works with, constantly flashing back to the days when she was too young to comprehend illness.
Jennifer looks back at her childhood and thanks her mother’s intuition for her survival. She had sensed something was wrong even after the doctors kept giving them false fever diagnosis. If it wasn’t for her mother’s persistence, the doctors never would have found the lump in her stomach.
“I tell some people the story — usually the older kids and the parents,” she says. “I understand how scared the kids are and I don’t get frustrated with them. They are going through a lot. I can understand that more than those who haven’t gone through it. I connect more.”
Jennifer never forgets about cancer. It’s always on the back of her mind because it can always return. But her worst fear is that it will happen to one of her children. Every time she looks at them, she remembers that they were so close to not being here, that she is her very own miracle woman.