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*Importance of Rehab*

Understandably, we realized Jesse would possibly need rehabilitation services as a result of his chemotherapy regimens but the great extent of therapies needed was shockingly unexpected.  Sure, we read the potential side effects of chemo, weighing the pros and cons…but really? We had a 17-year old young man willing to endure whatever it took to beat the beast…so we were all in, let’s do it.  Consequently, the third regimen of chemo was too much for his body to endure.  It damaged his brain cells causing the need for intensive rehabilitation therapies.

Initially, the limitations were foreign to Jesse…he could not understand why he could not jump out of bed or get his fork to his mouth.  The connectors in his brain were so scrambled. Baby steps had to be taken to reintroduce Jesse to necessary daily tasks.  Extreme frustration is the best way to describe how he felt most of the time once he realized his limitations. Assistance was needed for sitting up, transferring to his wheelchair, getting dressed, showering, eating and even with his speech.  What a blow to the boy that was ready to spread his wings and fly into the world of independence.

Eventually, he did grab the bull by its horns, taking on his therapies with a fervor.  As things began to connect in his brain he could see his progress.  Some things more apparent than others.  U of M, Mott Children’s Hospital therapists had ways of incorporating therapies with fun activities. They did a remarkable job.  After being discharged, Jesse began therapies at Level 11 in Grand Blanc.  It was such a smooth transition as he continued his tri-weekly workouts.  The atmosphere at Level 11 was conducive to a youthful gym, great energy and music playing in the background which provided awesome mental therapy.  Prior to Jesse’s diagnosis he was physically fit and could do 25 pull-ups at one time.  Prior to going to Heaven he worked his way back up from zero to 11 pull-ups.  Amazing.  Just amazing the drive and stamina he had.

More than anything, I want people reading this to know the importance of not giving up. Sometimes it is extremely hard to see the light at the end of the tunnel. It may seem humiliating to wear a towel around your neck to catch the food that drops as you struggle to get the fork from your plate to your mouth…but don’t give up. It may seem impossible to do another leg lift…but don’t give up.  It may cause too much pain to pull those elastic bands one more time…but don’t give up.  The brain is so remarkably durable…it can be reprogramed and activities can be relearned.  The combination of therapies accelerated Jesse’s well being.  Towards the end of Jesse’s life, he had become so much stronger physically… standing, quasi-walking with a special walker, riding his recumbent bicycle… that we almost forgot that the real battle was still leukemia.

Rehabilitation Therapies:

  • Physical therapy
  • Speech therapy
  • Occupational therapy
  • Massage therapy (optional – but so beneficial)


U of M, CS Mott Children’s Hospital

Level 11 ~ Physical Therapy

Level 11Physical Therapy

Level 11 ~ Physical Therapy

The Brain That Changes Itself  is a great educational book that I referenced while researching neurological damage.  The science of neuroplasticity gave me hope to know that potentially Jesse’s chemically induced brain injury could naturally be restored.


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