Feb 2, 2010

Student struggles to survive

by Emily DeFosse

The online journal begins Aug. 31, 1999 — 28 days after 12-year-old Jenna Sailsbury received a cord blood transplant at Duke University Hospital. Now a senior at Liberty, Sailsbury is once again at the Duke University Hospital fighting for her life. The journal, which was updated sporadically since 2007, is once again updated by Sailsbury’s mother, Kay Salisbury, on an almost daily basis.

Jenna Sailsbury was diagnosed with a rare form of Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (ALL) with a philadelphia positive chromosome on Dec. 30, 1998. Doctors put JennaSailsbury on an intense form of chemotherapy to buy time until a bone marrow donor could be found, according to the Caring Bridge online journal.

After an extensive search for a donor, including state-record-breaking drives at the family’s church and Liberty University no match could be found.

Sophomore Hannah Sailsbury, Jenna Salisbury’s younger sister, recalled that her aunt found out about the cord blood transplant that Duke was performing, and Jenna Sailsbury was taken to receive the transplant soon after.

The journal, which was created to keep distant friends and family updated to Jenna Sailsbury’s condition is a record of the ups and downs the Sailsbury family has encountered since Jenna Salisbury’s diagnosis 12 years ago.

The journal is full of entries asking for prayer for Jenna’s strength and healing, as well as praising God for his blessings, which are things as simple as eating a can of chicken noodle soup. There are also prayers for other children in the ICU that Jenna Salisbury got to know during her time at Duke.

Over Christmas break Jenna suffered from a 10-day headache, according to Hannah Sailsbury. On Dec. 29 she began vomiting and was taken to the emergency room. After tests were run, doctors informed the family that there was bleeding in Jenna Salisbury’s brain, which caused the effects of a stroke.

“How crazy is this — I’m 22 years old, having a stroke — why does that happen?” Kay Salisbury quoted Jenna Salisbury in her Jan. 3 journal update.

“Well, as we all know there are no answers so much of the time to life’s hardest questions. However, we do know God is in complete control and loves us more than we’ll ever understand. So we hold on to that,” Kay Salisbury wrote in the next paragraph.

Hannah Salisbury went to see Jenna Salisbury Wednesday.
“Its so hard to explain what she is going through. I told people when I went to go see her it’s like you are in a different world. Sort of like I went to Haiti and back in one day and life just goes on,” Hannah Sailsbury said.

Life is a daily, and even momentary struggle for Jenna Salisbury. On Friday Jan. 29, Kay Salisbury wrote asking for prayer that Jenna Salisbury would eat and was excited that she was more alert.

On Saturday Jan. 30, Jenna Salisbury’s blood pressure was raised and doctors were preparing her for surgery as Kay Salisbury wrote, “Pray for the doctors to have wisdom and the Lord to guide them in every move they make.”

As of Sunday Jan. 31 Facebook updates showed that Jenna Salisbury has yet to wake up from the surgery.

The family is asking for prayer and total healing.

“Pray for God to heal her completely, emotionally, physically and spiritually … People do not realize unless you live with her, or are around her all the time or you have cancer or anything real serious like that, it effects you for the rest of your life. So you know there is always going to need to be prayer,” Hannah Sailsbury said.

Students can receive updates on Jenna on caringbridge.org/page/jennaswebsite. They can also add Jenna as a friend on Facebook or join the group “desperate prayer needed for Jenna.”

Contact Emily DeFosse at

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