Jace Eddy remembers being a first grader at Seacrest Country Day School in Naples. She remembers her friends, her teacher and the horrible leg pain that wouldn't go away. Trips to the pediatrician and blood tests led to the recommendation of a trip to a children's hospital several hours north and a diagnosis—acute lymphoblastic leukemia. Jace remembers that, too.
"I went to the bathroom and fainted," Jace recalls. "I woke up and saw my mom crying. I remember that moment—when I realized what my family was going to go through."
Finding The Children's Hospital
With two children and a thriving business, long trips for treatment were going to be difficult for the family, but necessary and worthwhile for Jace to get the treatment she needed. That was the plan until a family friend told the Eddys about The Children's Hospital of Southwest Florida in Fort Myers. Jace remembers meeting Emad Salman, M.D., and the staff. "I immediately felt comfortable," Jace says. "The staff made the hospital feel like my second home."
During her stays at The Children's Hospital, Jace and her mom spent the time working on art projects. "My mom and I would treat the hospital stay like a vacation," Jace says. "We both love art, so my mom would bring a wagon full of supplies. We would draw and paint and I learned to sew."
Jace endured two-and-a-half years of chemotherapy and radiation before she entered remission. She was in remission for eight months before she relapsed.
By the time she relapsed, Jace was a fourth grader starting at a new school. "I had just started attending Canterbury School and I wanted people to accept me for who I was, so I decided not to wear hats and scarves to cover my bald head," Jace shares. "The school was very supportive, and the kids were nice about it." Jace went through another two-and-a-half years of treatment. She entered remission again and has been clear since July 2005.
A Bright Future
Jace always has been dedicated to helping others. Whether sharing her "Get Well Soon" balloons and stuffed animals with the other children on the oncology floor or spending time volunteering with Habitat for Humanity and Relay for Life, Jace says her experiences helped her realize what she is capable of and what is important.
Today, Jace is an intelligent girl mature beyond her years, attending Boston College. With her attitude, strength and determination, her future certainly is bright.
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