Leaving Cancer in the Dust

Jordyn Farrell
  Jordyn and her dad 
Cancer didn’t stop Jordyn Farrell. It made her stronger.

As a 15-year-old soccer player, Jordyn exhibited the drive and dedication necessary to be a winner. In January 2009, however, her pace started to slow.

“I felt exhausted for a long time, and then I started having high fevers,” she said.

Her father, Nick Farrell, could tell that something was off. Later that month, a trip to Children's at Satellite Boulevard changed their lives.

Getting a Diagnosis

Thinking Jordyn might have an abdominal infection, the staff took an X-ray, which showed a mass in her abdomen. They urged her and her mother to go to the hospital immediately.

Jordyn had hours of tests at Scottish Rite hospital. A few days later, she had surgery to get a definitive diagnosis.

 “I had a soccer-ball-sized tumor that was about 4 pounds that had basically taken over my ovary,” she said. “I was shocked and angry.”

Doctors declared the mass a Stage 1 germ cell tumor, meaning that cancer cells had formed in her ovary’s egg cells. Jordyn faced a choice: monitor her health closely or undergo chemotherapy. She opted to forgo the chemotherapy.

But six months later, during a routine computerized tomography (CT) scan, doctors found about a half-dozen tumors, two of them about the size of softballs. Cancer had claimed her other ovary and spread. At that point, Jordyn and her family agreed to chemotherapy.

A Kid on Chemo

Jordyn appreciated the balance Children’s offered: They respected her maturity while still providing kid-centered care. She said it made a big difference during her chemotherapy, when she was spending five days every two to three weeks in the hospital.

“I was able to interact on an adult level but could just be a kid, be sick and people helped me,” she said.

She went through four rounds of chemotherapy, ending her treatment in October 2009. 

“The Aflac Cancer Center provides a seamless transition of care from being a cancer patient to early cancer survivor to being a young adult, when kids have to start taking on a lot of the responsibility for their medical care,” Nick said.

Supporting the Transition into Adulthood

The Childhood Cancer Survivorship Program at Children’s, spearheaded by pediatric endocrinologist Lillian Meacham, M.D., allows cancer survivors to have access to their electronic records so their providers are informed about their conditions and potential complications. This enables them to better manage their care they as they get older.

For Jordyn, now a 20-year-old junior at Georgia College and State University, the technology network SurvivorLink allows her to see what side effects might occur and helps her monitor her health. For instance, due to her chemotherapy, she was at risk for developing pulmonary fibrosis. 

Jordyn is looking forward to celebrating her five-year survivor mark next summer and hopes to pursue a career in public health policy.