Meet Jocelyn Cervantes
Meet Jocelyn Cervantes, a vivacious 21-year-old student at Stanislaus State with dreams to pursue a career in nursing. She was your typical college student, immersed in the rhythm of university life - hanging out with friends, going to concerts (especially Drake!), and going to the gym. She is also the glue that holds her seven younger siblings together, a loving and protective big sister who was always there for them.
On May 30, 2023, everything changed when Jocelyn was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia, catapulting her into a 2-3 year unknown journey. When she began experiencing worrisome symptoms a week before her final exams, she attributed it to typical college stress. She kept going to school and living her daily life as normally as possible. As an active and healthy young woman, cancer was never a consideration for her.
However, when she came home, the alarming pallor on her face was immediately noticed by her mother. Jocelyn's condition was dire and she ended up needing three critical blood transfusions. She was moved to Stanford Hospital, two and a half hours away from the comforts of her home, friends, and family. Suddenly, the life Jocelyn knew was no more.
During her first month of her treatment, Jocelyn remained hospitalized. Her family stayed in nearby hotels but the cost was starting to add up rapidly. They needed a sustainable solution, one that would keep them close to Jocelyn and provide her with the vital support she needed. A hospital social worker directed them towards the JW House.
At the JW House, her younger siblings found solace in the simple joys of childhood. They loved playing in the backyard, watching TV in the rooms, and playing with all of the toys. As the big sister, Jocelyn was used to being the one providing comfort to her family and it was hard for her to feel like she wasn’t there for them like she normally was. However, knowing her family was comfortable and happy at the JW House gave Jocelyn peace of mind as she battled her cancer. “Instead of having to stay at the hospital, they got to enjoy being kids. JW House is really for all ages. It is very welcoming, comforting, and helps families save money during hard times. They make you feel like you are not alone and can still see light in dark times.”
In October, Jocelyn’s younger brother stepped up in another way: he became Jocelyn’s much-needed stem cell donor for a bone marrow transplant. When her family found out that Jocelyn needed a bone marrow transplant to replace her cancerous cells with healthy ones, her siblings and parents immediately spurred into action. When they discovered that Jocelyn’s brother was a 100% perfect match in DNA, the choice to donate to his big sister wasn’t even a question.
"He completed a week of prep, which was 2 cycles of collection of stem cells and 4 days of injections. The collection was a 7 long hour process where he just sat in a chair and an IV was running through both of his arms to collect the cells they needed. I’m grateful that it ended up working out the way - the process would have probably been a lot longer and challenging if we had to find a different donor." Jocelyn tells us.
Jocelyn's journey is far from over, and she still faces many hurdles on her path to recovery. With her family's unwavering support and the comfort of their home away from home at the JW House, her spirits remain high.