BAY VILLAGE - She's just 14-years-old and has been dubbed "the picture of grace under pressure".
With a diagnosis that would have dropped some adults to their knees, Jane Finley stepped it up a notch and started paying it forward.
Even her parents were unaware of what she was up to.
The Bay Village teen is back at rockin’ it with the Rockettes.
She had also made a name for herself at cross country and lacrosse.
Then, a stage 2 Hodgkin lymphoma diagnosis came like a sucker punch from behind.
Still, resilient Jane started lacrosse camp 3 days before surgery.
"We drove to the Cleveland Clinic straight from camp. I got my port in and my ovary removed. That was..that was very hard," says Finley.
Jane auditioned for the Rockettes while in remission, made the line, and then relapsed before the season even started. But she performed with the Rockettes all through treatment.
"And I looked forward to it every single day. It made me feel still like a normal person and not like the girl who had cancer," says Finley.
Jane performed her last game 6 days before her stem cell transplant. It was homecoming and the entire football team handed her roses on the field.
Jane, it turned out, would be sidelined just as freshman year was starting.
“Missing the whole first semester, all those classes, was hard because I was STUCK in my house and couldn't leave. I missed 3/4 of my 8th grade year,” says Finley.
Not far away in Lakewood, 7-year-old amazing Maisie Knowlin was kicking cancer to the curb.
We first met Maisie in February of last year in the Cleveland Clinic, waiting for her life saving marrow transplant.
Today she is stronger than ever in her journey and is taking Lakewood Catholic Academy classes from home via an interactive “V-GO” robot that allows her to participate, even move around the classroom as if she is there, through the robot.
Jane was taking note of Maisie’s progress with the V-GO”
“You’re still in the class getting to listen getting to write things down," says Finley.
So what does Jane do? Starts a GOFUNDME account to get MORE robots for more sick kids at every Cleveland hospital and at St. Jude.
"Just because I know how hard it is to miss out on school and I don't want kids to miss out on so much of their lives," says Finley.
Her mom Dawna still laughs when she points out that even her parents had no idea what she was up to.
Grateful to be back at school, Jane Finley is paying it forward.
"It just made me appreciate my life so much more," says the 14-year-old who still has her port in place for more infusion treatments next year.
"It's your own life to make how you want it. Never let it hold you back," says Finley.
"Until it happens to you, you have no idea. But then you LEARN! And you PAY IT FORWARD!" says Jane’s mom, Dawna Finley.
"It changes your whole life and doing this for other people makes me feel so good about it and I just want to help so many other people and make their lives easier," says Jane Finley, with a resilient maturity some adults have yet to muster.
For this reason, we’re filing Jane Finley’s story straight to #The Good Stuff file.
***Jane had the opportunity to attend the Grammy Awards earlier this year as a guest of the Make a Wish Foundation. Check out some of the stars she got to mingle with!
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