When a trip to the E.R. turned into a cancer diagnosis, Mazzy Jester thought her dreams were unraveling at the seams. University of Florida health physicians worked quickly to create a personalized treatment plan just for her. Now, Mazzy is cancer-free and can get back to designing the life she imagines.
Many people were involved in Mazzy’s care. In this photo gallery, we can see what Mazzy went through as a patient battling Hodgkin lymphoma and the amount of support she received from others. Mazzy never gave up and remained positive throughout her experience. Now, she’s back to being a kid again.
“As we moved forward, we knew things were going to be OK.”
Mazzy Jester turned to UF Health in her fight against Hodgkin lymphoma.
Mazzy Jester is your typical 12-year-old. She likes hanging out with friends, being silly with her sister and playing with her dogs. When she grows up, she wants to be a fashion designer. But on Sept. 7, her dreams almost unraveled when she felt a mass in her collar bone.
Mazzy’s family quickly scheduled an appointment to see her UF Health pediatrician, Carolyn Carter, M.D., the next day. Concerned, Carter suggested that Mazzy go to the UF Health Shands Pediatric E.R. to be sure everything was OK. What happened next was devastating news for Mazzy’s parents — she was diagnosed with Hodgkin lymphoma.
“It all happened so fast,” recalled Mazzy’s mom, Kym Jester, holding back tears. “Within two hours of getting to the E.R., we were told that our daughter had cancer, and a day later, she was admitted to surgery for a biopsy. As we moved forward, we knew things were going to be OK. The doctors assured us that they could help us.”
William Slayton, M.D., UF College of Medicine pediatric hematology and oncology division chief and program director, worked with his team to create an aggressive treatment plan. That same week, Mazzy started her first of four weekly rounds of chemotherapy.
“After the second round, Dr. Slayton delivered some good news,” Jester said. “We were told Mazzy was 72 percent cancer-free and didn’t need radiation.”
Mazzy responded very well to chemotherapy. According to Jester, members of the care team used words like “amazing” and “miraculous” to describe her fight against the disease. To forego radiation, a cancer patient must be at least 60 percent cancer-free, and Mazzy was well above that benchmark.
“Kids like Mazzy are why I am a pediatric oncology nurse,” said Natalie Dotson, R.N., B.S.N., CPHON, of UF Health. “Mazzy’s energy was infectious, and she had the ability to take her treatment in stride and remain positive throughout this difficult experience.”
Mazzy completed her last round of chemotherapy in late November 2015 and by January 2016, she was back at school and cancer-free.
“Mazzy is someone who will make you laugh and smile,” said Slayton. “It’s one of the things that makes our field so rewarding — being able to work with these unique kids and treat them so they eventually grow up and become great adults.”
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