Survival story of FedEx courier’s daughter provides extra motivation for volunteer work with 2012 Jimmy Fund Scooper Bowl
This week, FedEx is again the title sponsor for the 30th Annual Scooper Bowl in Boston. This three day all-you-can-eat ice cream festival is an annual fund raiser for The Jimmy Fund. The Jimmy Fund was founded in 1948 and supports the fight against cancer in children and adults at Boston’s Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, helping raise the chances of survival for cancer patients around the world.
Almost 200 FedEx team members from four different states are volunteering at this year’s Scooper Bowl. Among the volunteers is Ed Downing, a FedEx Express courier based in Wilmington, MA. A few years ago Ed’s daughter Jessica, at the age of 14, was diagnosed with a form of lymphoma, and was successfully treated at the Dana Farber Cancer Institute. Her story, and thousands of others, provide us the motivation to devote volunteer time to great causes like the Scooper Bowl.
Written by Jessica Downing
“Opportunity follows struggle. It follows effort. It follows hard work. It doesn’t come before”
– Shelby Steele.
If you had asked me what this quote meant to me two years ago, my answer would have been very different than it is today. I believe that everything happens for a reason. Everybody is given opportunities, and those opportunities may be to help develop a change in your life, to mature, or to reveal who you truly are. Along with opportunities, comes struggle. But if you put in enough effort, you’ll always make it through. At the age of fifteen, I learned what it truly meant to struggle, and the only way to get past that struggle is to persevere.
I was a normal fourteen year old excited to play on the high school field hockey team as a freshman. It was a great year and I couldn’t wait to play the next year. In August, as tryouts approached, I began to feel weak. I found myself not being able to keep up with the rest of the girls. By October, I was cut from the team. I knew something didn’t seem right.
I’ll never forget that December day. As I pulled up to Children’s Hospital in Boston and walked the unfamiliar halls with my family to meet with a team of oncologists, all that replayed in my mind was “Why me?” I never could have imagined myself learning that I would be a patient at Dana Farber Cancer Institute for the next two years, and would receive an intense chemotherapy treatment for Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoblastic Lymphoma. I underwent tiring and emotionally painful treatments, while also trying to live a normal teenage life. I was supposed to be having fun with my friends, not making weekly trips into Boston for treatments and surgeries. Why me?
At first it seemed as if everything was against me and I wouldn’t be able to graduate with my class. I was unable to attend school most my sophomore year, so I received daily tutoring. The work was piled on day after day. I somehow managed to push myself enough and get it all done, even on my weakest days. I was known to be a conscientious and studious student; I wasn’t going to let anything change that. Unable to be at school like everyone else really brought me down. Something as insignificant as walking the school hallways and having lunch in the cafeteria were things I longed to be able to do like a regular student. Again I thought: Why me?
Yet, being a patient at Dana Farber gave me opportunities to travel with other cancer patients my age. I have visited Florida for Red Sox Spring Training to meet the entire team, Baltimore for Red Sox games, and spent weekend trips in Boston hotels. A great organization known as Make a Wish provided my family and I with an unforgettable trip to Hawaii as a way of showing their support to children with life threatening diseases. Despite feeling star-struck from the many trips, the true stars were the other kids who I now call friends. We got to know each other well; understand what each other had gone through. Some of them have suffered far worse than I have, with amputations and breathing tubes. I feel like I am one of the lucky ones.
As my treatments are nearing the end, I realize my life has changed because of what I have endured, and I have become a new person. I have learned not to take anything for granted. I have learned that I can always help those in need. Organizing local blood drives and raising money at Relay for Life is something I work harder at every year. Most importantly, I have learned that through generous donations, my doctors, and many other doctors have been able to treat patients like me. I have learned that support brings strength and strength brings opportunities. But most of all, I have learned the answer to my question, “Why me?” Why not me?
FedEx Team Members Ed Downing, Parul Bajaj, Robert McKinley, Lynn Diodata, Jerry Greenfield (Co-founder of Ben & Jerry’s), Matt Rebholz, Cheryl O’Brien and Mike Swan supported the 30th Annual Scooper Bowl event.