JENNIFER BLAIRE | Age at Diagnosis: 21 | Hometown: Running Springs, CA
MIKE HARRINGTON | Age at Diagnosis: 21 | Hometown: Newington, NH
College is a time to gain knowledge, have fun, and learn about life, but for Jennifer Blaire and Mike Harrington, it became a time to wonder if they would even live.
Jennifer was in her last months of nursing school when she had abdominal cramps, rectal bleeding, and bloating. During a physical for her job as a student nurse, she mentioned her symptoms to her doctor who immediately referred her to a gastroenterologist. After months of problems with her insurance, Jennifer finally had a colonoscopy, then surgery. She was diagnosed with stage III rectal cancer and began chemotherapy one day after the 2006 Colondar photo shoot.
Mike was also a college student when he became so exhausted and sick that he couldn’t even go out with friends. By the time he was fired from his job, he had lost almost 40 pounds and was in severe pain. Mike moved home and went straight to his doctor, who biopsied a mass in his colon. He had surgery and began chemotherapy for stage II colon cancer. He was on medical leave from college, but was forced to take classes close to home to keep his insurance, despite the fact that he was so ill from chemotherapy that he often missed lectures.
After completing treatment, Mike and Jennifer returned to school, and both recently graduated.