Mazzy Jester is your typical 12-year-old. She likes hanging out with friends, being silly with her sister and playing with her dogs. When she grows up, she wants to be a fashion designer. But on Sept. 7 last year, her dreams almost unraveled when she felt a mass on her collarbone.
Mazzy’s family quickly scheduled an appointment to see her pediatrician,Carolyn Carter, M.D., a UF College of Medicine clinical associate professor. Concerned, Carter suggested that Mazzy go to the UF Health Shands Pediatric E.R. to be sure everything was OK. What happened next was devastating news for Mazzy and her parents — she was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma.
“It all happened so fast,” recalled Mazzy’s mom, Kym Jester, holding back tears. “Within two hours of getting to the E.R., we were told that our daughter had cancer, and a day later, she was admitted to surgery for a biopsy.”
William Slayton, M.D., UF College of Medicine division chief and program director of pediatric hematology/oncology, worked with his team to create an aggressive treatment plan. That same week, Mazzy started her first of four weekly chemotherapy sessions.
“After the second round, Dr. Slayton delivered some good news,” Jester said. “We were told Mazzy was 72 percent cancer-free and didn’t need radiation.”