One Troy University student has conquered bone cancer and has chosen to give back to those in the situation she was once in.
Jada Thornton, a junior nursing major from Montgomery, was diagnosed was osteosarcoma, a rare type of bone cancer, in 2009. In 2010, she created a Relay for Life team, which she named Fight Like a Kid, to benefit Children’s Hospital. She has also entered her team in this year’s Dragon Boat Race in Montgomery.
“Kids fight more than adults,” Thornton said. “They learn to go with the flow. They know how to keep living life.”
After a knee replacement in 2009, she went into remission. In 2014, after multiple surgeries, the doctors told her that the cancer had resurfaced and was the size of a softball.
Thornton said she was given the option between a leg amputation or another knee replacement. The doctor performed the leg amputation in September 2016, and Thornton has been in remission since January 2017.
“I think the hardest part was having to adapt to a new life,” she said. “A life that isn’t your usual life that you used to have.
“Learning not to care when people stare was also really difficult, being able to go out in front of a group of people again with the prosthetic. Kids stare because they don’t know any better, so getting used to that took a while.”
Thornton played a multitude of sports, including cheerleading, basketball and softball, while she was young, beginning at 8 years old. She said she wanted to become a professional basketball player before being diagnosed with cancer.
Now, she said she hopes to participate in the track portion of the Paralympics in Birmingham.
“I want to be a nurse to show the kids in the hospital that I know what they are going through,” Thornton, who wants to work in pediatric oncology, said. “I want to show them that they can hurdle over any obstacle put in their way.”
Thornton said her parents, family and friends were very supportive during the process. She also said the university was helpful in working around her needs.
Her father Patrick Thornton said the family got through because of their faith.
“We are a religious family,” he said. “We just got our strength and guidance by calling on our Heavenly Father.
“It all came to a halt all at once. It helped when we could focus on what we had to beat. Now, we are back on the road of options.”