My name is Jonah Howell, I just turned 18 but was diagnosed with Leukemia when I was 16. I am just ending my Junior Year at Sparks High School and can’t wait for an epic Senior Year next year…
My journey and the hills that I have climbed over to get here is something that no normal human could do, but thanks to Saint Mary’s Fitness and Northern Nevada Children’s Cancer Foundation (NNCCF) help I didn’t just get back to my old self, but a greater version. From all their help I felt like my goal was to help back, and I did but I also am still coming up with ways to help out other children, such as my time building Christmas packages last Christmas for all the children in the Hospital that I “stayed in” not less than a year before. But now I have that behind me.
It began on Christmas of 2019. I just ended high school football season and I went to train for next season. An athlete knows his body the most, now I can take a hit but this wasn’t that pain I was feeling. A killing pain in my right gut, I rode it out for a few days until December 26th when I rushed to the ER in pain and zero energy knowing me I already had epilepsy so this would be the last thing I needed, but of course, Leukemia had to pay me a visit. I felt like this was my lowest point in life but I kept a brave face for everyone, but it wasn’t until NNCCF that I felt as though my weights got lifted off me.
They first helped me with fun activities to keep my mind off the horrible pain, like the UNR softball game, and inviting me everywhere, and helped my parents with getting a whole new bedroom set up for my recovery at home and a laptop so I could do my school work from home. The best support from them that I could have ever asked for was when I lost my ability to walk. I was put in a wheelchair. My mom saw that I was really down and my doctor kept telling me how I had to stay moving around and doing stuff, but I couldn’t and that made me mad. When you are going from being able to run on a football field to not even being able to stand up on own it’s really hard. My mom emailed NNCCF to ask if they knew of a place where I could get into a pool and do some exercise like the doctor said to do. They emailed back and said they found a place – Saint Mary’s Fitness Center.
We went there to meet Josh and my mom had already calculated how we were going to pay for it, even by going back to work. But then Josh said that NNCCF wanted to cover that treatment for me so we wouldn’t have to figure it out. From there I was thankful beyond return. Little did I know that what they offered me, the ability to get help from the Saint Mary’s Cancer Rehabilitation Program, which would help me get back to standing and walking on my own in a quick six months. The trainers I’ve had are awesome and they know how to push me, plus use tricks to help my brain talk my body into working right.
I joined our school Golf Team this year and will also be there next year as a Senior, plus I am ready to start conditioning for football again. I had a time when I didn’t think I would even be able to play football again. Thanks to all the people at NNCCF and Saint Mary’s Fitness Center who came together to get me back to where I need to be.