Leukemia, the life-changer

PHOTO BY MIA FINNAMORE Carnes’s dad, Rob Carnes, occasionally gave her at-home chemo. The doctors trained them on the process.

A fellow classmate at Anoka Ramsey Community College conquers cancer.

By Mia Finnamore

How much do we really know about that person we sit next to in class for months at a time, or that person with a similar schedule that we see on the bus every morning? Everyone has a different past with unique experiences that make them who they are today. Jenna Carnes is no exception.

You wouldn’t necessarily know this just by seeing or talking with her, but Carnes was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia just three years ago. Carnes said she tried to keep a light attitude when she was a patient at Children’s Hospital.

PHOTO BY MIA FINNAMORE  Carnes said she tried to keep a light attitude when she was a patient at Children’s Hospital.

PHOTO BY MIA FINNAMORE Carnes said she tried to keep a light attitude when she was a patient at Children’s Hospital.

It was Feb. 24, 2012, and Carnes was at school in eighth grade. She was overcome with a never-ending nosebleed, and she was sent down to the school nurse, but Carnes said she knew that something was up. Her mother then took her to the doctor, where they found that her hemoglobin count was extremely low. With this discovery, doctors then directed her to the Children’s Hospitals of Minnesota, where the truth was uncovered.

“It’s one of those things where you’re like ‘I’m fine, it’s not going to happen,’” she says.

Carnes was told that she had acute lymphoblastic leukemia. At the age of 14, she said that her biggest concern initially was that she was going to lose her hair during her cancer treatment. Carnes said for the first 10 minutes she was crying, but then something snapped in her and she thought, “It’s already happening; there is nothing you can do about it now.” She said she tried to look on the bright side, and she tried to comfort her siblings, who didn’t take the news so lightly.

Throughout her time in the hospital, Carnes said she met a number of different people who were there for her as resources, including: a psychologist, a nutritionist, and a number of doctors. She also crossed paths with a lot of nurses, most nice but some not so nice, which she said sparked her interest in becoming a nurse, too.

“I want to be a good nurse,” she chuckled.

PHOTO BY MIA FINNAMMORE  The doctors put Carnes on several kinds of medications. This is an average week’s amount.

PHOTO BY MIA FINNAMMORE The doctors put Carnes on several kinds of medications. This is an average week’s amount.

After leaving the hospital, Carnes started her recovery at home. She said going back to school was difficult. The reason for this, as Carnes mentioned, was, “I felt like crap, and school is the top place to get sick.” She was out of school for two months until she started to go back part-time. She went back to school full time when she started ninth grade at Rogers High School. She said it was at the beginning of ninth grade when she lost all of her hair, and she did not want to go back to school at all. However, Carnes said she was surprised to find out that everyone was really supportive.

“I’m pretty fortunate to have such a supportive and accepting school,” she remarked.

Carnes tried to remain positive through the whole experience, which affected more than just her educational path. She said she now feels more mature than she was before, and people tell her that she is an old soul. When thinking about how her perspective on life changed, she mentioned that, “I just started to stress less about the little things and try not to take life for granted.” She said now she just doesn’t want to grow up and that she wants to appreciate every moment.

PHOTO BY MIA FINNAMORE  Carnes’s dad, Rob Carnes, occasionally gave her at-home chemo. The doctors trained them on the process.

PHOTO BY MIA FINNAMORE Carnes’s dad, Rob Carnes, occasionally gave her at-home chemo. The doctors trained them on the process.

About the Author

The Campus Eye Staff
The Campus Eye is published by students of the Cambridge and Coon Rapids campuses of Anoka-Ramsey Community College. Campus Eye articles in print and online represent the opinions of the writers and not the college or the student body.