Video games have brought generations of people together, especially in the modern day where the first generations of gamers have become parents who game with their children. One such example is 13-year-old gamer Jessica Meyer, who remembers playing with her mother and father at a very young age.
“The first video game I remember playing was Rock Band on our PlayStation,” she recalled. “When I was little, my parents and I would rock out to all the 80s music like we were rock stars. It was awesome having our own family band, and it was pretty funny having my parents think they were cool while playing. I have also played Ms. Pac-Man with my parents, too.”
Fun soon gave way to reality, however, as young Jessica was diagnosed with brain cancer at just 11 years of age. Through her battle, the cancer impacted her hormonal balance, caused an adrenal insufficiency and stunted her growth. Despite waging a war against her enemy, however, Jessica did her best to stay strong.
“Throughout this whole journey of painful procedures, surgeries, chemotherapy and radiation, I was always positive and kept a smile on my face even through the worst times,” she said. “There is this quote that really means a lot to me – ‘Turn your scars into stars.’ I think whatever bad things come in life, you need to turn it to good. My advice to everyone is to have this quote written down and keep it in your back pocket. That way you are prepared to go through life being positive instead of negative.”
With many things changing through Jessica’s fight with cancer, she recalled many of the ways she added a positive spin to things. Along she way, she even created a new name for a popular color.
“So B.C., (before cancer, I like making up my own acronyms and new words), I had long beautiful brown hair down past my gluteus maximus,” she stated. “My hair is now growing back and I think I am rocking this new short hair style. Because my growth is stunted, I consider myself fun-sized. My favorite color is blellow, which you get when you combine the colors blue and yellow and you combine the words blue and yellow, you get blellow, AKA green.”
Well-known charities such as Extra Life and Children’s Miracle Network assisted Jessica in her war with cancer. Once she completed her treatment, she was given a 90 percent survival rate. She stated that she is forever thankful to both causes for assisting her and those like her across the country.
“Because of Extra Life and Children’s Miracle Network, I was able to kick brain cancer’s butt,” she exclaimed. “If this was ten or 15 years ago, my survival rate would have been between 40 and 50 percent. Treating children is not like treating a small adult. We are very different. We have different needs along with different treatment protocols. These hospitals are dedicated to children, and the hospitals are always full. I can’t imagine a world without them, and I am here because of what they do.”
Today, Jessica works to give back to the charities that aided her through cancer by helping others who are engaged in the same kinds of battles. She stated that the experience gave her a new mission in the world.
“This has given me a greater purpose and direction to help the other kids that are at the hospitals,” Jessica said. “I hope to continue my role for a long time with them and help other kids that are going through what I went through.”
In 2015, Jessica worked as an official red carpet reporter for Extra Life during the world premiere of video game-related film Pixels, starring Adam Sandler and Kevin James. It was her first-ever visit to New York, and after taking in the tall buildings and distinctive pizza of the Big Apple, Jessica hit he film premiere and interviewed the stars.
“The experience on the red carpet, getting to interview all of the celebrities was thrilling, exciting and energizing all rolled into one,” she recalled. “I was right there next to all of these other professional reporters and holding my own. I had to stand on an equipment box to make myself taller while interviewing because of my fun-sizeness. Interviewing the celebrities was the best part. They were all so nice and would talk to me and respond back using my name like they have known me for a long time. I have a feeling they play a lot of jokes on each other.”
Jessica states that her experience on the red carpet has inspired her to pursue a career in the television industry. With her cancer defeated, she plans to use the time in her life to pursue that dream while giving back.
“I want to build my media knowledge,” she added. “I am now working towards producing my own YouTube channels and doing podcasts. One day I want to be a radio and TV personality so I can be like Marie Osmond. I plan to continue to educated and inspire organizations, people and businesses about how important it is to support organizations like Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals and Extra Life. I have a passion to see that there is a day – soon – where there is a cure for cancer. I plan to continue my public speaking, and I love sharing my story. If this happened to me, it can happen to anyone. It could be your neighbor, friend or family member. We need to keep the donations coming. Still live your life even though your body can’t do everything it used to. Have faith that it will work out, stay positive, have faith, have fun and fight!”
You can learn more about how to help Extra Life by visiting their website at Extra-Life.org. You can also follow them on Twitter for real-time event updates and news @ExtraLife4Kids.