South Mississippi teen battles cancer but doesn’t miss a beat in the classroom

While she can’t physically be in class, Janna Babin found a unique way to continue her lessons at Our Lady Academy.

South Mississippi teen battles cancer but doesn’t miss a beat in the classroom
Coast teen battles cancer and doesn’t miss a beat in the classroom (Source: Photo Lisa Babin)

BAY ST. LOUIS, Miss. (WLOX) - According to the American Childhood Cancer Organization, 300,000 children globally are diagnosed with cancer each year. It’s a conversation that no parent wants to have.

Coast teen battles cancer and doesn’t miss a beat in the classroom
Coast teen battles cancer and doesn’t miss a beat in the classroom (Source: Photo Lisa Babin)

“Two trips to her pediatrician and one trip to the ER when we finally got the diagnosis... Her pediatrician called me. It was Tuesday afternoon, August 21st, at 3:28, a day I’ll never forget. Her pediatrician, basically on the phone, had to tell me that my daughter had leukemia," said Lisa Babin, Janna’s Mother.

Janna Babin was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia only weeks after starting the 7th grade.

Trips to Ochsner Medical Center and St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital slowed her learning progress to a near standstill. Her journey was a long one. Two days after her diagnosis, she started a month-long treatment of chemo at Ochsner and was in remission two months later.

Coast teen battles cancer and doesn’t miss a beat in the classroom
Coast teen battles cancer and doesn’t miss a beat in the classroom (Source: Photo Lisa Babin)

Another round of chemo, a bone marrow transplant at St. Jude delayed by bacterial meningitis, liver failure and septic all tried to slow her down, but Janna continued her school work.

Janna was determined to not only beat cancer but to finish the 7th grade on time, and thanks to the people at St. Jude, she was able to do both!

“We were very lucky that they were able to coordinate with the teacher at St. Jude, and she was able to 7th grade while she was at St. Jude in-between days of being so sick. So, she finished 7th grade while we were at St. Jude and was issued a report card there," said Lisa.

Janna was just happy that she could continue her school work.

“[The St. Jude’s teacher] could come into my hospital room when I was admitted or we could go outpatient to the school and work there. Classwork was sent to St. Jude, to my teacher, to help me pass. I took the tests at St. Jude and passed the 7th grade while I was as the hospital," said Janna.

Coast teen battles cancer and doesn’t miss a beat in the classroom
Coast teen battles cancer and doesn’t miss a beat in the classroom (Source: Photo Lisa Babin)

Even though she is back home, she can’t go back to school yet, so the unique learning style continues.

“We kind of hashed a plan. I said let’s get her to Skype in so she’s not missing days," said Theresa St. Mary, Janna’s teacher. “She’s with the girls, so she’s Skypes into math class every day. I want her as actively in school as she possibly can be. So, when she walks in these doors in February, or January, whenever the time frame is, she hasn’t missed a beat. She walks right in,” St. Mary said.

The Babin’s know that the battle is not over, but with the help of St. Jude, it’s one they won’t fight alone.

“St. Jude’s amazing. You only hear it. You only see the commercials. To be there, it’s an amazing place. Every cent, every penny, every dollar that’s donated to St. Jude goes towards the families. We paid for nothing. I didn’t pay for food, gas, housing... Everything was taken care of. When they say our focus is to take care of our children, that is our focus," Lisa told WLOX.

Janna is scheduled to be back at school in February of next year. That will mark one year since her bone marrow transplant and 16 months in remission.

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