Mighty Blog

Cancer doesn’t stop for COVID-19: Jordyn’s story

24-year-old Jordyn Meskan is a proud North Dakota State University graduate—achieving a degree in civil engineering and a minor in Spanish. She is an active volunteer with Engineers Without Borders, works as a full-time civil engineer, and is a ski instructor. And on top of all of that, still finds time to garden, rock climb and watch Bison football. Needless to say, she wasn’t going to let a cancer diagnosis get in the way of her busy life.

Jordyn’s diagnosis

After several weekends of teaching skiing, Jordyn noticed some swelling in her leg. She initially thought that she must have injured herself while skiing, but thinking back, she couldn’t think of any incident that could have caused swelling.

Over the next several weeks, Jordyn met with various doctors, had several scans and underwent two biopsies. She was diagnosed with Alveolar Rhabdomyosarcoma, a rare and aggressive solid tumor in her leg. After her diagnosis, she was referred to Children’s Minnesota—even though she is an adult—to receive care from oncologists who are experts in treating this rare type of cancer.

Jordyn skiing

Arriving at Children’s Minnesota

A few days before Jordyn’s first scheduled appointment at Children’s Minnesota, she felt shooting pain in her leg. She ended up going to the Children’s Minnesota emergency department where she was diagnosed with a blood clot and was quickly admitted to the hospital.

After being admitted to the hospital, Jordyn met her oncology care team, a few days earlier than planned, and began treatment. Her treatment consisted of treating her blood clot along with weekly chemotherapy. Beginning in mid-January 2020, she received in-patient chemotherapy every three weeks, then returned to the clinic for out-patient chemotherapy for two weeks. Jordyn also spent five and a half weeks at Abbott Northwestern, across the street from Children’s Minnesota Minneapolis hospital, for radiation therapy.

Jordyn at Children's Minnesota

Cancer doesn’t stop for COVID-19

After Jordyn began treatment, the COVID-19 pandemic began. But that didn’t change the fact that Jordyn’s treatment needed to continue.

Jordyn’s care team told her: “Cancer doesn’t stop” and neither would they. While clinic and hospital visits looked different due to the pandemic, her care team—from her doctors to home health nurses to physical therapists—helped her prioritize her goals and get better, while she was still juggling a full-time job as a civil engineer.

Jordyn’s Children’s Minnesota experience

“While sometimes it’s challenging not seeing any patients my age around the hospital or in the clinic, the staff has been phenomenal,” Jordyn said when asked what it was like to receive care at a pediatric hospital as a young adult.

While she was older than most patients at Children’s Minnesota, she was able to find community with her care staff. During one of her longer stays on the oncology floor, the nurse and clinical support associate (CSA) assigned to her stopped in to check her vitals and give medication, and ended up spending extra time talking about life, travel and even music.

“This took place during [the new] COVID-19 visitor restrictions where visitors weren’t allowed, so it was so refreshing and healing to be able to have a good conversation not focused on my health, but just normal conversation with people I now consider friends.”

Jordyn told us that support like she got from her care team that night was one of the most helpful things to her during treatment.

“A cancer diagnosis will flip your life upside down, but the staff at Children’s [Minnesota] will go above and beyond to make sure your cancer treatment experience will be the best it possibly can be,” said Jordyn. “Without a doubt you will make friends along the way and the staff members will become your second family, always cheering you along every step of the way.”

After months of treatment, Jordyn still has good days and not-so-great days where she feels the side effects of chemotherapy. But she tries to maximize each day, and make sure she can still do all of the activities that she loves—like getting back on the ski hill each winter! Once she finishes her scheduled chemotherapy regimen, she will transition to maintenance chemotherapy to make sure her cancer doesn’t come back.

Shine Bright for Cancer Kids

This September, you’re invited to Shine Bright for Cancer Kids during Childhood Cancer Awareness month. Whether you donate online or shop with a participating business, you’ll help people like Jordyn fight cancer. Your gift goes directly to the Cancer Kids Fund at Children’s Minnesota, supporting everything from special therapies to life-saving research to mortgage and rent relief. Nearly 1,000 children will be cared for this year at Children’s Minnesota, home to the largest and most specialized program in the Upper Midwest. With your help, we can make every day a little brighter for them.

Kaitlyn Kamleiter