When Olga “Jasmine” Lopez received a cancer diagnosis at age 11, she was blissfully unaware of the challenge ahead. After watching Jasmine suffer from mysterious symptoms that stumped her doctors, including migraines, muscle spasms and back aches, her mother took her to the hospital and demanded answers.
Within 45 minutes of her blood test, Jasmine was diagnosed with leukemia. The Lopez family scored a referral to Golisano Children’s Hospital of Southwest Florida, and soon recognized that this was the best place for Jasmine to receive treatment for her disease.
“I didn’t know what cancer was,” said Jasmine, remembering that tough day in February 2010. “I was 11. I kept asking my mom, ‘What is cancer?’ and she kept crying. The doctors and the child life specialist at Golisano helped me understand it.”
The outpatient clinic at Golisano Children’s Hospital sees more than 400 visits a month. Treatment protocols are provided at the same level of excellence as other nationally known cancer centers. That means the families who call Southwest Florida home can stay close to their support network of friends, family and colleagues, while their children still have access to the best in lifesaving pediatric care.
“At Golisano Children’s Hospital, they really care,” Jasmine continued. “They help you. They play with you. They make sure you have everything you need to get through this. They are just always there. I know they supported my mom a lot too. I still remember the games I would play with the nurses.”
This year, Jasmine turned 21 years old. When she looks back on her cancer journey, she is proud of her strength and success in beating her disease. Though she still is dealing with the long-term effects of cancer treatment, her outlook on life is positive and bright.
Jasmine will “pay it forward” to her community by participating in the virtual Clips for Cancer fundraising event where she will shave the head of Lehigh Acres Fire Department Lieutenant and Paramedic, Brooke Ricciardi, that will take place on Friday, September 11. The proceeds will benefit Barbara’s Friends, which is Golisano Children’s Hospital Cancer Fund. Donations from the Southwest Florida community will serve children like Jasmine, ensuring that they can receive exceptional care that is also close to home, regardless of their family’s financial situation.