BVA senior takes Relay for Life personal
Since her freshman year, Jenna Christner has represented her school as a student organizer for the Relay For Life of Mon Valley.
For the Belle Vernon Area High School senior, the cause behind the event is personal.
“A lot of people do it just to spend time with their friends,” the Rostraver Township woman said. “To me, it hits home because I had personal experiences. It's nice to give back for something that affects me.”
Jenna, 18, has successfully battled leukemia and thyroid cancer during her young life.
The Relay For Life of Mon Valley is scheduled 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. May 2 at Charleroi Area High School Stadium.
Following the opening ceremony, the event will continue with games and activities throughout the day for students.
A survivor ceremony will take place 6 p.m. A luminaria ceremony is set for 8:30 p.m.
To register or buy luminaria, visit www.relayforlife.org/pamonvalley. The suggested donation for luminaria is $10.
California Area and Monessen school district students will participate in the Youth Relay for the first time, joining students from Belle Vernon Area, Charleroi Area, Elizabeth Forward, Frazier and Ringgold.
Sponsors are Giant Eagle, UPMC Cancer Centers and the Uniontown Hospital Radiation Center at the Robert E. Eberly Pavilion.
Corporate partners are The Valley Independent and Monongahela Valley Hospital.
Jenna remembers this sobering date: Dec. 15, 2004, the day – at age 9 – she was diagnosed with leukemia.
“I was really tired and always getting sick,” Jenna recalled. “I just kept getting colds, but could never get better.”
Following blood tests, her physician at South Hills Pediatrics told the family to take Jenna to an emergency room. She subsequently underwent chemotherapy, which sent the cancer into remission.
Following a relapse a year later, Jenna underwent radiation, a core blood stem cell transfusion and more chemotherapy.
In ninth grade, her thyroid was removed when it was found to be cancerous.
“I had minimal consequences, despite my relapse,” Jenna said. “The only thing I endured was being so hungry from the steroids and not being able to eat.”
In the wake of Jenna's courageous battle, her mother, Tracy Christner, and maternal grandmother, Pat Christner of North Belle Vernon, successfully battled breast cancer.
“I think they thought if I could make it, they could, too,” Jenna said. “And now they are fine.”
Her dad is John Christner, a Rostraver Township police lieutenant.
Views on life
The experience has changed Jenna's outlook on life. She plans to begin studies in pharmacy next fall at Duquesne University.
“The reason I chose something in the medical field is because I want to give back,” Jenna said.
She volunteers for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, organizing a dodgeball tournament to raise money for the charity.
Jenna helped to organize a bake sale for Make-A-Wish, another charity close to her. In 2007, Christner became a wish child, although the family trip to Orlando was pushed back a year because of the relapse.
She has received a Make-A-Wish scholarship, which will help pay for college.
Jenna does not participate in the survivor ceremony, preferring to watch.
“It is really touching that people do that,” Jenna said. “And I just want to thank everyone who participates.”
Jenna said she takes satisfaction in seeing students enjoy the event, through which the American Cancer Society ultimately benefits.
“I just like seeing everyone getting together and doing something for the whole community, because it affected me personally.”
Chris Buckley is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-684-2642 or email@example.com.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Monessen customs flourish at celebration in Howell, N.J.
- Football game’s cancellation numbs Cal U campus
- Felon back behind bars after Monessen drug raid
- 5 Cal U football players arrested for assault; Saturday’s game canceled
- Environment focus of Donora digital storytelling conference
- Traffic stop near home leads to drug charges for 3 Monongahela residents
- Suspect in Monessen shooting wants to pull guilty plea