Sophomore Jasmine Cousins reflects on a childhood with Acute Lymphocytic Leukemia

Sophomore Jasmine Cousins and her mother Kharreim Bush reflect on the treatment and childhood Jasmine endured at a young age

At the age of one and a half, sophomore Jasmine Cousins was diagnosed with Acute Lymphocytic Leukemia (ALL), which attacks the blood and bone marrow.

Before she was diagnosed, her mother Kharreim Bush, who was in college at the time, knew her daughter was not well.

“I knew something was wrong. She stopped walking and she [would] say her legs would hurt. She’d take a couple steps and start crawling,” Kharreim said. “I remember talking to friends and family. Everyone just brushed it off and said she was being lazy, but when you become a mom, you know when something is wrong, especially when she stopped walking.”

Jasmine was taken to the emergency room because of her high fever and progressively worsening cramps. The doctors thought it was Lyme Disease because of the similar symptoms. After 2 months of no certain results, Jasmine was taken to Children’s Mercy, where the doctors diagnosed her with ALL.

“I was crying. I was sad,” Kharreim said. “Cancer unfortunately runs really bad in my family so it was scary. I was heartbroken.”

Cancer doesn’t discriminate. It doesn’t matter how much money you have or how much money you don’t”

— Kharreim Bush

Jasmine started chemotherapy the next morning. Jasmine and Kharreim traveled from Springfield, Missouri three times a week to get treatment. Jasmine went through chemotherapy for the next five and a half years.

“Cancer doesn’t discriminate. It doesn’t matter how much money you have or how much money you don’t have, you just pray that you keep it under control or you fight it,” Kharreim said. “That’s what I keep telling people you [have to] stay strong. It’s hard especially when you know its coming back.”

In 2013, Jasmine was notified she was cured of Acute Lymphocytic Leukemia for the next ten years. She was introduced to a camp called Camp Quality Northwest in Missouri by the doctors at Children’s Mercy. The purpose of the camp is to provide year round support for children with cancer and their families. Jasmine has attended Camp Quality since the age of five and continues going every year.

“[The camp] lets us be like normal kids again,” Jasmine said. “Going to camp shows we are normal just like any other kid; we just have gone though a different childhood than others.”

The same people attend camp with Jasmine every year. She helps and supports her friends when they are sick.

“I know if I didn’t have cancer I wouldn’t have some of the people I have in my life now, I probably wouldn’t be how I am now,” Jasmine said.

Jasmine not only developed relationships with friends but a strong relationship with her mom.

“It is much stronger than with anyone else, much stronger than any normal mom. We probably would not be as close as we are because she always there, anytime I get sick she’s right there and will not leave,” Jasmine said.  “I know she’s worried because that’s what mothers do; it’s protective and I love it.”

With having cancer, Jasmine learned many valuable life lessons.

“You will get through it, it sucks it’s hard for everyone,” Jasmine said. “You [have] to stay positive and always think happy.”

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