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Brave new world: 11-year-old Leukemia survivor, gymnast shares her story

Jordyn Minor is an 11-year-old fifth grade student at Wildwood Elementary. She has a passion for reading and gymnastics. She is the oldest of three with a 2-year-old sister and 11-month-old brother.

Minor has also been through quite a bit in her young life. She was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia, or ALL, in December of 2014. Minor almost immediately went to Memphis, Tennessee, with her family to start treatment at St. Jude’s.  Within 15 days of starting treatment, her cancer went into remission. She has been cancer free for almost a year and a half.

“The doctors were in awe because they had never seen it work that fast,” said Minor. “So the cancer is gone — they just treat me now so it won’t come back. Last year and this year there’s been no cancer, and I’m still in remission.”

Minor said that since she’s been in remission, she’s been able to go on “great trips” to represent St. Jude.

“This year I went to the Stellar Awards,” said Minor. “I got to go on the red carpet to interview some celebrities. I got to talk to Travis Green, Yolanda Adams, Kirk Franklin and Kasey Jade. It was so much fun.”

Minor’s mother, Chastity Smith, said that this whole experience has brought their family closer together, and that it’s strengthened their faith.

“We got to see God work through her,” said Smith. “She was able to touch and link up with a lot of families and a lot of friends that were out there in Memphis. It’s been a tremendous blessing to see where we were and where we are now. “

Minor said that she’s come out of this experience stronger, and that she’s ready to get back to gymnastics. Minor has been participating in gymnastics for five years, and has even won state championships. She said that she does a “little bit of everything” when it comes to gymnastics, but the uneven bars are her favorite.

“I do uneven bars, the beam, floor exercise, the vault and stuff with the trampoline,” she said. “My favorite is the uneven bars though. It’s a lot of swinging. I like to hang and do the tricks on it. You can jump from the low bar to the high bar.”

Minor also said that when she isn’t practicing gymnastics, she loves to read. She aspires to be a teacher and a nurse later in life.

“With education I want to teach second grade,” said Minor. “Just because I’ve been wanting to be a teacher since I was little. I literally have a board at my house and I try to teach. Being at St. Jude is what inspired me to be a nurse. They let me help draw my own blood so I thought that was really cool.”

Though Minor is in remission and continues to have big dreams for her life, her father, Joel Smith, said that what they’ve been through has reminded them all what is really important.

“As a family you see how much you really love each other when you go through hard times,” said Joel. “You’re kind of on auto pilot when everything is good. Everything is firing on all cylinders, and you don’t really think of everything that could go wrong. When life is that close to being taken away you start to see how much the small things matter, and how much time really matters. You start thinking about who God really created you to be, the strengths and weaknesses that you have. The things that you wont give up on.”

Photo courtesy of Chastity Smith

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