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The student news site of Diablo Valley College.

The Inquirer

The student news site of Diablo Valley College.

The Inquirer

Student thrives after battle with cancer

Jason Anders (The Inquirer/2010)

It started with severe abdominal pain while Jason Anders was packing for a trip to Tahoe two days after finishing finals in December 2007.

The diagnosis came on New Year’s Day, following removal of a mass the size of an orange: Berkins lymphoma, a rare form of cancer.

“It was a great way to start the year,” quipped Anders, now 22 and the survivor of intense chemotherapy, stem-cell transfer and radiation.

Anders and doctors acted quickly, starting him on chemotherapy treatment to stop the spread.

“It feels like crap,” he said, recalling the four-hour treatments every three weeks that left him nauseated and exhausted.

“I slept 36 hours once,” he said. “It wipes out your body completely.”

After the fourth treatment, Anders was given a CT scan and was told everything looked great.

Except it wasn’t.

After the sixth treatment, the cancer had returned.

The next step was stem-cell transfer at Stanford Medical Center.

Of his four siblings, Anders’ older brother was found to be a match, although he ended up not needing a donor.

“The new chemo destroyed it [the cancer] enough so that I could use my own cells,” Anders said.

The six-day regimen began Sept. 6, 2008 at Stanford on his 21st birthday.

“We have a family business so we were able to alternate staying with him and working,” said his mother, Kathy Anders.

After the transplant and 22 treatments of radiation therapy, that ended Jan. 6, 2009, Anders was pronounced cancer-free.

Kathy Anders said she relied on family support to make it through the rough time. Her daughter even moved back home to care for Anders and make sure he made it to school everyday.

“For about a year, it was all about him,” she said.

The illness cost Anders a year of school, a year that still feels “like it was all a bad dream.”

But he gained a new appreciation for life.

“You never know when [the cancer] will end your life,” he said. “I try not to stay idle for long.”

Anders now takes better care of himself by eating less red meat, drinking tea and exercising.

“He values his life much more,” said friend Trinh Phan. “He wants to do everything – travel, get a good job and degree…He’s just a changed man.”

Anders said he is satisfied right now.

“I’m transferring in the fall, have a great girlfriend and great friends,” he said.  “What more could I ask for?”

Anders still has to get a CT scan every six months.

He still must see his doctor at Stanford once a year.

His last visit will be in September.


Contact Julie George at [email protected]

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Student thrives after battle with cancer