By CHRIS HUSSEY
It was a normal group dynamics class for Jordan Thorne and his classmates earlier this semester. The course is taken by many students throughout the college, and a large part of it involves activities led by the students in their various groups. Thorne and his group were leading one of these activities outside the building between the C- and F-wings. It involved people running underneath a large parachute as the rest of the class held it up for them. Throne was monitoring the activity, running around encouraging everyone and keeping everything running smoothly.
Mary Anne Melanson, lead learning strategist in the Community Integration through Co-operative Education (CICE) program at Conestoga College, said the activity went over so well because of Jordan’s leadership and encouragement.
“Jordan and his teammates really made people feel comfortable and safe,” she said.
Thorne is a source of inspiration for many of his classmates and faculty members. The 19-year-old is in his first year of the CICE program at Conestoga College. He is a son, grandson, brother, brother-in-law, uncle and friend.
He is also a cancer survivor.
Thorne was just nine years of age when doctors discovered a tumour in his brain. It took an eight-hour operation, but the tumour was successfully removed and Thorne was able to go through therapy to regain his balance. But it was only three years later when another tumour was discovered, and this time, it was cancerous. He went through a year of chemotherapy and radiation treatments, finishing just five days before his 13th birthday.
Thorne said his parents were an enormous help to him as he went through his treatments. One of the biggest things affected was his balance, which even poses challenges to this day. But while it’s more of an inconvenience now, it affected him in more significant ways back then.
“I wasn’t able to stand up in the shower, so she (his mom) would have to bathe me,” he said.
Thorne was able to keep pace with his classmates as he was home-schooled through Grade 8, and since then, he’s used his experiences to try to inspire. In fact, one of his dreams and passions is to become a motivational speaker, and he has already started doing that. One of his more memorable moments was when he met former NHL player Darryl Sittler at a charity event called Docs on Ice last year. The annual hockey tournament is designed to raise money for a chosen beneficiary, and Thorne was a guest speaker at the gala that took place the day before. Thorne thanked Sittler in his speech, saying that was a significant experience for him.
“After I was done I had them in tears,” said Thorne.
It hasn’t always been easy for him. Along with his balance, his short-term memory was also affected. He said he had a lot of problems in high school with teachers getting mad at him because of this.
“I guess my worst fault is not standing up for myself,” said Thorne.
Despite the challenges he’s faced, he continually looks for ways to inspire others and give back to his community. He and his family are actively part of a cancer day in a park near where they live, but he has also been involved in Relay for Life, fashion shows and other fundraising events.
Melanson said Thorne is defined by a lot more than just the health difficulties he has faced. In class, he is the one always participating and contributing to discussions, and she said one of his greatest traits is he normalizes the experiences in the program for other students.
“Jordan’s always stood out because of his positivity, his encouragement to other students and for us, honestly,” she said. “It really makes it a pleasant experience when you have a student like Jordan.”
It is clear that Thorne is a lot more than just a survivor.