Jennifer Anand

A Place to Fight

High school seniors have any number of concerns, from final exams to selecting a college. For Jennifer Anand, however, these matters all took a backseat when she learned she also had cancer to contend with.

Diagnosed with Stage 4 Hodgkin's lymphoma in January 2012, Jennifer spent what was left of her senior year undergoing extensive chemotherapy and radiation treatments at UH Rainbow Babies & Children's Hospital.

Refusing to let cancer impact her plans, she finished her treatments, graduated and promptly began classes at University of Akron Honors College. Pursuing a degree in mechanical engineering, she finished her first semester on the Dean's List and then, on Christmas Eve, relapsed.

"It was really hard to not meet the goals that I had set for myself," said Jennifer, who had to put school on hold while she underwent another bout of chemotherapy and an autologous bone marrow transplant. To cope, she started a blog to chronicle her journey.

"I was 17 when everything started, before the new Angie Fowler Adolescent & Young Adult Cancer Institute at Rainbow opened," she explained. "When I was treated, I was in the same space with little kids, which was really challenging. Today, Angie's Institute gives outpatients the chance to be with their peers and supports them during that unique time in life when you're caught between childhood and full-fledged adulthood. It's incredibly important."

Now 22, Jennifer recently graduated college and accepted a position at FM Global as a field engineer. Despite on and off hospitalizations for other health issues, her cancer remains in remission.

"Every time I go to Angie's Institute, it's like I have my own cheering squad," exclaimed Jennifer, who is involved with AYA cancer advocacy at Rainbow. "Everyone there is like family."