CLARKDALE – Jordan Kemble remembers the day he got terrible, life-changing news.
“When I was told I had two weeks to live, that was something,” he recalls doctors telling him in 2016. “But God had other plans for me, and here I am today.”
On Friday night, the young man walked across the stage to receive his diploma from Clarkdale High School.
It was a miraculous achievement, given that he once fought stage 4 brain cancer.
“The fact that I graduated here six years later has been surprised and very humbled,” he said. “It has been a great achievement for me to get this far.”
In August 2016, Dr. Don E. Marascalco said that Kemble had a brain tumor, and a month later it was learned during surgery that the tumor was malignant.
Kemble was only 14 and in eighth grade.
“When I found out I had cancer, I really didn’t respond to it,” he said. “I was shocked … it didn’t hit me until later.”
In September 2016, Kemble began treatment – 36 rounds of radiation and eight rounds of chemotherapy – at St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis, Tennessee.
He eventually returned to Clarkdale, where it was difficult to adjust to school again.
“It’s been tough,” said Kemble, who suffered from short-term memory loss after his cancer treatments. “To be honest, I probably couldn’t have done it without my classmates and my family.”
Jordan Kemble speaks with members of the Clarkdale soccer team at a meeting at the school in September 2018. Kemble, who graduated from the school on Friday, was diagnosed with medulloblastoma, a form of brain cancer, when he was in eighth grade.
In September 2018, the Clarkdale football team gathered around Kemble at its Make-A-Wish Foundation Wish Reveal ceremony, where it was announced that Kemble and three family members would be taking a vacation to Walt Disney World.
“Those guys around me were my brothers that night,” said Kemble, who served as team manager. “I didn’t expect the entire football team to be there.”
Ken Hardy, who was the director of Clarkdale in Kemble’s early years, said his resilience is inspiring.
“He was always a pleasure to be around, even when he was having a bad day and wasn’t feeling well,” said Hardy. “He could just brighten up a room with his smile.”
Now that his cancer is in remission, Kemble is optimistic, knowing that his struggles have prepared him for life’s many challenges.
“I believe what I’ve been through has made me stronger,” he said. “It has given me some resilience.”
And he is especially grateful to his classmates and teachers in Clarkdale.
“This wouldn’t be possible without my great senior class and the staff,” he said. “They helped me and taught me every day. If it hadn’t been for them, this day would never have happened. “
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