At 19-years-old, leukemia patient and University of Central Florida freshman Max Jones was the oldest “kid” in the pediatric oncology unit at AdventHealth in Orlando.
Taking it in all in stride, he posed for photos with visiting Disney characters, delivered personal performances during the music therapy visits and livestreamed his bone marrow transplant on Facebook.
But most of all, he asked the nurses a lot of questions.
“They took an interest in me, and even more so when I told them I wanted to be a nurse,” says Jones.
He developed a special connection with nurse Delaney Postma ’15, who cared for him during his first month of treatment, his transplant and throughout it all served as a mentor — encouraging him with tips and career advice.
Although Jones had long been interested in a nursing career, his experience at AdventHealth and his interactions with their nursing team inspired him to choose pediatric oncology as his course.
“They planted the seed in my head that I could be a light for families going through what I went through, and I could be an example,” says Jones. “I could show other kids that I’m here, I’m thriving.”
Now 23-years-old and a junior in UCF’s College of Nursing, Jones was selected to receive the Alfred I. duPont scholarship, and while filming an interview about the impact of the gift, the College of Nursing surprised him with a visit from Postma, who he had not seen since his treatment. Their emotional reunion was captured on camera.
Today, Jones is cancer free. This spring he’s completing his clinical experience in the same hospital where he was treated, and some of his training has taken place on the very same floor where he was treated with instruction from Postma.
The story of this resilient student and the nurse who inspired him was covered by hundreds of NBC and CBS stations across the country in honor of National Nurse’s Week, which this year takes place May 6-12.