The Nicki Leach Foundation
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Jordan's Story

My name is Jordan Lewis and I am a 21-year-old senior International Business student at Oral Roberts University in Tulsa, Oklahoma. This past summer, after returning from a month long humanitarian aid trip to an uncharted village in Tanzania where I was building a birthing clinic, I was diagnosed with a stage four sinus cancer.

I was experiencing what the doctors thought was severe sinusitis, total congestion of my sinuses and frequent nose bleeds. Finally, after antibiotics and steroids proved unsuccessful in mitigating my symptoms, a CT was ordered.

I was horrified when the doctor told me I had a mass in my head the size of an orange. A biopsy was scheduled for the next week. I was in summer school and desperately wanted to be able to finish the strategic planning class on which I had worked so hard. So, even after the biopsy confirmed that the mass was malignant, I returned to class the next day to do my final presentation. That afternoon, I moved back home to Raleigh, North Carolina to live with my family. After a vigorous and exhausting five months of treatment and recovery I am now cancer free and going back to college to finish my senior year in Oklahoma.

I have always tried to be a caring person, volunteering in my community and serving as a dorm chaplain at ORU. But after having faced a life-threatening event such as a malignant tumor in my frontal sinuses, I am much more genuinely compassionate and sensitive to the struggles that people go through. By going through this epic struggle of my own, I have learned how to care for people who are facing struggles even if they are different than what I went through. I learned what to do and what not to do to care for people.

While I was going through my cancer treatment a close friend of mine was diagnosed with gastroparesis (a disorder in which the stomach takes too long to empty its contents). This condition makes her tired and she must get her nourishment through a feeding tube. Instead of sending her self-help books or ways to improve her condition, I spent time with her doing things that she was able to do and listening to her. I will forever continue to accept people where they are in their needs and be intentional in caring for them in their own special way, meeting their own special needs.

Being an adventurous, active young adult, I rarely gave any thought about my health in the past, but now I need to think about it daily. Throughout my whole treatment plan I was continually given statistics about having permanent heart and lung damage, losing my sight and hearing, having a higher risk of future cancer from the radiation and even losing my life. I was faced with the harsh reality that I might lose both of my eyes and part of my brain in order to save my life. This was a sobering event. Suddenly the only people I could relate to were between the ages of 50-70. Being diagnosed with cancer has made me become much more health conscious and aware that although anything could happen to me, I’ve already overcome one of the most terrifying. Because I am more susceptible to future cancers and health problems I am going to be much more conscious about how I eat, live and maintain an active lifestyle. I am also going to be making a lot more trips to the hospital for routine checkups.

Being diagnosed and cured of cancer has left a lasting effect on my body. Due to the position of the tumor and the way it grew, it destroyed all of my nerve endings that come through the cribiform plate (the olfactory nerves), causing me to permanently lose all sense of smell. The loss of smell will change how I live my life in the future. I realize I will need other people to help me determine if foods are still good to eat, if there are toxic chemicals or fire that I need to avoid or if I should take a quick shower. I have mourned the fact that I will never smell coffee brewing or bread or cookies baking, or smell fresh mown grass or the smell of the forest that I loved so much. But, I feel so very fortunate to be alive and although I have lost my sense of smell, it seems a small price to pay for my life.
Because of the aggressive nature of the type of head and neck cancer that I had, I will need to be closely monitored through follow-up visits and scans both in a cancer center in Tulsa, Oklahoma and in North Carolina. In order for me to get back and forth to the cancer center, I will need a reliable car. I currently do not have a car and have no sort of transportation to get me to the center for dietary help and routine checkups. The gift from Nicki would be used towards this, so I can continue to live my life in the new normal way.

I will be graduating from Oral Roberts University in May of 2012, although I will also need to attend summer school in June and July in order to meet all my requirements. Post graduation, I would like to continue my education and get my masters degree in business. I also plan to make more trips to other third world countries to do humanitarian aid work. Foreign and domestic trade and social entrepreneurship have always been interests of mine and getting to know the vital needs of a population is essential in formulating a worthwhile plan. This gift would greatly help me in ultimately achieving all these goals. Thank you for considering me as an applicant for this generous gift.

With sincere gratitude,
Jordan Lewis