Playing to Win

Jason Dufner and Jake Totten

Jake Totten (right) meets PGA TOUR player Jason Dufner at the launch of the Birdies for Babies fundraiser.

Jake Totten, 20, is a high-energy athlete from Richfield who excelled in high school football, wrestling and lacrosse. In fall 2013, Jake was excited to start classes at Baldwin Wallace University and play on the university’s lacrosse team. Instead, he began to feel tired all the time within the first two weeks of school. A campus doctor ordered blood tests, and then delivered the news – Jake would need to see an oncologist.

Doctors at University Hospitals Rainbow Babies & Children’s Hospital confirmed the diagnosis that Jake and his family feared: He had leukemia, a cancer of the blood and bone marrow.

“My parents were stunned, just like I was,” says Jake. “I had been so active and healthy. It shows that cancer can hit anyone at any time.”

After his initial shock and sadness, Jake quickly adopted a sports mentality to beat the cancer. With doctors, nurses and other medical teammates providing the very best care, and family and friends cheering him on, Jake rallied through rounds of chemotherapy at Rainbow’s Angie Fowler Adolescent & Young Adult Cancer Institute. He is among the first patients to receive treatment in this new facility, which is designed for teens and young adults battling cancer.

“The people at Rainbow have been so caring. You’re not just another patient there,” says Jake.

Now in remission, Jake recently returned to college. He still receives chemotherapy at Rainbow once a month but he’s ready to return to a “normal” life of classes and lacrosse. “I’m in control of cancer now. Cancer is not in control of me,” says Jake.

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