Nelson, who has a brain tumor (adult onset astrocytoma), is about halfway through seven weeks of daily radiation in Jacksonville, Fla. Her cancer is very rare, with less than 200 cases reported in the world and surgery is not an option. Doctors say the cancer is very aggressive and operating could possibly do more harm than good to her memory as well as speech. After the radiation treatments, she hopes to come home in November.
At the same time, Heritage High School students and faculty are grieving the loss of fellow student and friend, Ashlynn Veal, who passed away Monday, Oct. 8. Veal, a freshman, was fighting her second round of non-Hodgkins lymphoma. She was first diagnosed in the fifth grade. She was undergoing aggressive chemotherapy and was scheduled to receive a bone marrow transplant in January at St. Jude.
Several students and teachers, along with the Heritage Fellowship of Christian Athletes, are hosting a support drive for Veal and Nelson. Natalie Atwell, a teacher at Heritage High, said the news of Veal's death was a shock and tragic, and they intend to persevere even harder in their support of Nelson and reach out to the Veal family in any way they can.
"I talked to her (Veal) grandmother yesterday," Atwell said, "and she knows she is in Heaven free of pain and suffering, but she is struggling to accept the loss of such a sweet and precious girl. Our goal now is to lift up the Veal family in prayer as well as create 'the most awesome care package ever,' for Jordan so she knows her friends are thinking about her and praying for her during this difficult time. We have opened the drive to the whole community for the month of October."
Atwell said Nelson's mother gave them some great ideas for gift items, but the thing her family has expressed the greatest desire for is prayer.
"People are welcome to bring items to HHS," Atwell said, "but we're hoping they'll also send prayers straight to God, every day, all day for both families."
Gift basket item suggestions are: snack foods (nuts, chips, crackrs and candy). Gift card ideas include: Zaxby's, Chick-fil-a. Starbucks, Steak & Shake, McDonalds, Wal-mart and Target.
Those wishing to contribute may bring items to Heritage High School or send items to: HHS C/O FCA 3960 Poplar Springs Road, Ringgold Ga. 30736.