Jordan Cornelius, 11, was diagnose with Philadelphia positive acute lymphoblastic leukaemia. File picture.
Jordan Cornelius, 11, was diagnose with Philadelphia positive acute lymphoblastic leukaemia. File picture.

'Heavyweight champ' Jordan, 11, fights cancer twice

By Keagan Mitchell Time of article published Sep 21, 2020

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HIS parents call him “a two-time world heavyweight champion” because he fought cancer, not once, but twice.

Jordan Cornelius, 11, was diagnosed in 2015 with Philadelphia positive acute lymphoblastic leukaemia, a type of cancer of the blood and bone marrow that affects white blood cells.

After completing more than three years of treatment, from 2015-2018, he had 11 “normal months”.

However, last year October, Jordan had a relapse and started chemotherapy in January. His family were told that he needed a bone marrow transplant.

In August 2015, his parents took him to a general practitioner after he complained of severe body pain.

The initial diagnosis was that Jordan had growing pains.

Two months later, he had a fever and cold sore and complained of severe pain in the abdomen, buttocks and legs.

His parents him to a different GP, “who thought he had some sort of blockage but didn’t know what exactly”.

His mother, Elrize Norris-Cornelius, asked for a referral letter to the Red Cross War Memorial Children’s Hospital. At first, the doctor thought it was a viral infection but further blood tests established that it was cancer.

“The first time it shattered our world. My husband Garron and I would watch him sleep, for the fear that he would die during the night.

“That’s how the fear gripped us. Over time, we educated ourselves and became more equipped to deal with our situation,” Norris-­Cornelius said.

A few years later, when Jordan had the relapse, they were told the only way he would overcome cancer was if he had a bone marrow transplant.

“The second time hit us harder. We were just getting used to having 'normal people's problems' and then came the second diagnosis. This time we approached it knowing more than the first time and Jordan wasn’t 6 anymore.

“We were able to bond together better and walk alongside him better, with lots of prayers and faith from us as parents, his younger brother Eben and from him,” Norris-Cornelius said.

In May, a donor was found in Germany and on August 20, young Jordan had a successful bone marrow transplant at Rondebosch Medical Centre.

“Jordan is in hospital recovering from his bone marrow transplant.

“We call him our two-time world heavyweight champion because he beat cancer twice.

“I see strength in him that is supernatural. He is kind, loving and compassionate.

"Going through this as a family has brought us closer together. Every hospital stay, every chemotherapy session, we challenge ourselves to find the joy despite the circumstances.

"We laugh and joke a lot as a family,” she added.

Jordan said: “I'm feeling well, health-wise. To every child fighting cancer, keep on going, you will get through this. God will be with you all the way.”

A paediatric oncologist at Rondebosch Medical Centre, Anabela Andrade, said: “Jordan will be closely monitored post transplant to ensure the donor graft remains well engrafted.

"Monitoring for disease relapse is also important, as is monitoring for long-term side effects from all the treatment he has received over the years.

“Not only are we looking for any medical complications, but also any negative impact the treatment period may have on his social and psychological well-being.”

*As we mark Childhood Cancer Awareness Month, Weekend Argus will feature children battling cancer.

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