The Nicki Leach Foundation
61 Maple Street, Box 973
Summit, New Jersey 07902
(904) 716-5394
 
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Jennifer's Story

My name is Jennifer Baker, and I am twenty years old. I was diagnosed with a rare brain tumor called an Oligodendroglioma in October 2010. I was a junior at Brigham Young University when I learned of my diagnosis.

When I received my diagnosis, I was in the middle of a semester of school. I had to withdraw from all my classes and move home (across the country). It was hard on me to drop out of my classes after how much work I had put in. I was not only disappointed but I was also angry and upset. I had to leave classes I enjoyed, a job I loved, and friends who I adored. I didn't know how to deal with my diagnosis or how I was feeling.

Being home, I had the support of my family and close friends and came to understand more about my diagnosis. I had many ups and downs where I would feel depressed and very ill, and through those downs, I became a stronger individual. I am no longer afraid. I know that I will get through this trial and come out a better person as a result. I also have been able to become more empathetic towards others because of the hardships I have had to face.

After receiving the diagnosis of a brain tumor, I had two brain surgeries and then started chemotherapy. During this time, I have had a lot of time to reflect on my life and to become a better person by how I've decided to spend my time. I have made blankets for the Ronald McDonald House and have spent time serving in my church's youth program. In order to stay positive and optimistic, I have focused on my creative interests. I had taken a photography class in college, so I have spent time practicing my skills. In addition to taking pictures of activities and friends, I also made a music video featuring my younger sister. I am also keeping busy by writing and performing music. I have written and recorded a lot of songs that help me express both my anxiety and my optimistic view toward the future.

This time of reflection has helped me see the person I want to be. I know now that I want to continue to become a more giving and loving person. I know that I want to continue to serve others and be positive and optimistic. I know that my positive attitude has helped strengthen not only me but also those around me. I want to be someone that people can look to for strength and support throughout my life.

The gift from Nicki would help me return to college. Because I had to drop out of school mid-semester, I had to lose some of the money I paid toward tuition and housing. I have been too sick to work during my chemotherapy, and as such, have not been able to earn money to pay for my next semester of college. The gift from Nicki would make it possible to pay for the tuition I would not otherwise be able to afford.