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GISD Student Battling Leukemia Finds Support in Her Band Community
Adeline Jansson, freshman at Georgetown High School (GHS), was only in seventh grade when she was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL). While ALL is the most common type of cancer amongst kids, Adeline’s type is extremely rare. 90 percent of her cancer cells are lymphoblasts (ALL), while the other ten percent are myeloids (Acute Myeloid Leukemia).
“She has been written up in some medical journals, it’s kind of weird,” Katie Jansson, Adeline’s mother, and third grade teacher at Ford Elementary said. “There are definitely a lot of eyes on it because of the rarity of her case.”
Since Adeline received her diagnosis, she has experienced a heavy amount of change. Before Adeline was diagnosed with ALL, she was active in school athletics and had the energy levels of an average teenager.
“I went from playing soccer and running track to doing nothing at all,” Adeline said. “The general fatigue I experience from chemotherapy made old activities hard for me.”
Through all the major transitions Adeline has gone through during her battle with Leukemia, her love for band has remained everlasting. Adeline plays the snare drum for the GHS band and is an active participant as long as her health allows her to be.
“Band has always been my happy place,” Adeline said. “It gives me a great sense of normalcy, and my friends there are so supportive.”
Adeline has had to miss out on many events over the last few years, especially with the presence of COVID-19. It was critical that Adeline remained isolated at its peak because she is at a much higher risk than most when it comes to the virus. Adeline’s friends in band have stayed dedicated to ensuring she stays connected during isolation. During Adeline’s eighth grade year, her friends would set up Zoom calls every single weekend to catch up with her.
“We really didn’t do much on our calls other than joke around and connect with each other,” Adeline said. “And sometimes I would even hop on calls remotely during jazz band practice and play with my peers.”
Around Christmas time during Adeline’s eighth grade year, she was met with a surprise that would bring a tear to anyone’s eye. Adeline had just been released from the hospital and was losing her hair due to chemotherapy. To lift her spirits, Band students from Benold Middle School went to her house and played Christmas songs in her front yard.
“It was incredible to see so many people show up to our house for Adeline,” Katie said. “Cancer is scary, and it was heartwarming to see her friends lean in.”
“One time my friends and I were on a call, and I had a tube in my nose that I didn’t want them to see, so I turned my camera off,” Adeline said. “I was eventually convinced to turn my camera on, and after the call it was like the tube wasn’t even there. Not one of my friends brought it up.”
When Adeline was finally able to return to band in person, there were still challenges she had to face. Adeline was, and still is, going through chemotherapy. Due to the time spent in bed and being inactive for a year before her return, the muscles in Adeline’s legs had grown very weak. This made it nearly impossible for Adeline to carry the weight of her snare drum. That is when Jed Leach, GHS Percussion Director, stepped in.
“Even though a snare drum isn’t the heaviest instrument, Adeline’s physical endurance has understandably taken a hit because of her chemotherapy.” Leach said. “While we were discussing how to make it easier for her to participate, I had the idea to take the wooden shell out of her snare drum to reduce weight, and it is working great.”
Leach has known Adeline since she was first diagnosed with cancer, and he has been a source of unwavering support along the way.
“I have been working with Adeline since she was a 6th grade beginner band member at Benold,” Leach said. “She has consistently been one of the hardest workers in the room, is extremely intelligent and well spoken, and is one of the best all around humans I’ve ever had the pleasure to teach.”
Many people in the Georgetown ISD community have been touched by Adeline’s story and inspired by her strength.
“Adeline inspires me daily,” Katie said. “Even her oncologist tells her all the time how much he is inspired by her.”
Adeline’s band peers and teachers continue to offer their support and uplift Adeline on her toughest days. The people in the GHS band community have been a crucial component in supporting Adeline’s active participation in Band, something she has found happiness in during her darkest times.
“Adeline is more than her diagnosis,” Katie said. “But cancer is a scary thing, and it is important for people to lean in when they can. That is exactly what the GISD band community has done.”
Adeline and her family have been advocates for Be the Match, a global leader in bone marrow transplantation focused on matching bone marrow donors with transplant recipients.
Only four percent of federal funding for cancer research is set aside for pediatric cancer research. 70% of patients in need of a marrow transplant do not have a matching donor in their family. A bone marrow transplant can save the life of someone battling leukemia, lymphoma, or another blood cancer. You can learn more about how to enter the bone marrow registry at https://bethematch.org/support-the-cause/donate-bone-marrow/join-the-marrow-registry/