“Oftentimes, educators believe that they ‘save’ their students’ lives through the mission of higher education,” explained Jasmine Nokaly, professor, English. But today, she has a different story to tell. “The students saved my life.”
During fall 2013, Jasmine was hired as a part-time English professor on the East Campus. Unfortunately, she simultaneously learned that she was diagnosed with Stage 1 breast cancer in her right breast. Jasmine was 32 years old and had just given birth to her daughter, Salma.
She decided to undergo a bilateral mastectomy and breast reconstructive surgery, and she faced six months of intensive chemotherapy.
Jasmine was also advised that she should get regular injections of the Neulasta shot, which boosts your white blood cell count to reduce the risk of infection and help the immune system stay strong. But, she was terrified of taking this medicine as it was a long needle that would be injected into her stomach. She was certain that this shot was not for her; she’d rather be sick.
She confided in her then-supervisor, James Leonard, professor, English, about her situation.
“I asked if I should resign,” Jasmine remembered. “But James said I should stay and that he would support me in any way he could.”
So, Jasmine continued forward with her dream of becoming a Valencia professor.
“I fell in love with the profession of teaching and, more importantly, with my students,” she shared. “I didn’t want to become sick nor miss a day of work. The passion I had for teaching my students at Valencia gave me the courage to take the Neulasta shot every three weeks for six months and seek the necessary treatment for my successful recovery from breast cancer.”
Now, she has been cancer-free for six years.
“Even in the depths of trials and tribulations, there is still hope and always something to be grateful for; you just have to look hard enough to find it,” she said. “Thank you Valencia students for being sunshine during my days of darkness.”
As October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, now is the perfect time to learn about breast cancer risks, details on early detection and screening information.
Valencia’s health insurance provider, UnitedHealthcare (UHC), recommends mammograms every one to two years for women 40 years old or older, as directed by your physician. Any preventative care mammogram screenings are covered at 100 percent under all UHC plans.
For employees who do not have a UHC plan, Florida Hospital is offering 30-minute mammograms for $30 during the month of October. For details, visit the Florida Hospital website.
Also, full-time Valencia employees may purchase, through payroll deduction, an Aflac Cancer Care Plan to help cover costs if diagnosed with cancer. For more information, click here. To purchase the plan, contact Aflac Representative Robert Clifton at email@example.com or 407-833-9271.