March 28, 2023
Children’s Art Project gives osteosarcoma survivor meaningful experiences as both a child and an adult
BY Cynthia DeMarco
Jordan Rance was only 11 years old when she was diagnosed with osteosarcoma in 2005.
“I didn’t have any symptoms,” she says. “I got hit in the right leg while playing a softball game. When it didn’t get better after a few weeks, I had an X-ray. It turned out to be sarcoma.”
After overcoming their initial shock, Jordan’s parents took her to MD Anderson Children’s Cancer Hospital. There, several rounds of chemotherapy and a surgery performed by orthopedic surgeon Dr. Valerae Lewis made Jordan cancer-free within a year.
Today, the 29-year-old continues to show no evidence of disease. And while she’s grateful to MD Anderson for saving her life, she’s also grateful to the Children’s Art Project — for giving her wonderful experiences as both a child and an adult.
Children’s Art Project activities provide a welcome distraction from sarcoma treatment
Jordan doesn’t remember much about her actual sarcoma treatment.
“Until my sarcoma diagnosis, I didn’t really even know what cancer was,” she recalls. “I was so young; I didn’t want any details. I trusted my parents to make good decisions. So, I only got upset when they told me I was going to lose my hair.”
But Jordan found a lot of joy in making art. So, whenever the opportunity arose to participate in Children’s Art Project activities, Jordan took advantage of it.
“The Children’s Art Project allowed me to feel like a normal kid,” she explains. “Even when I was feeling really bad due to nausea, staff members would come into my hospital room and work with me there. So, I was still able to do stuff that would take my mind off everything.”
The thrill of seeing her art become reality
Jordan recalls being very excited when she learned that several of her designs would be featured on Children’s Art Project merchandise — especially her favorite piece, dubbed “Princess Diva.”
The mixed media drawing of a blonde fairy princess in a pink dress and a purple tiara holding a yellow star appeared on everything from greeting cards, tote bags and blankets to jewelry, holiday ornaments and even baby bibs.
“My mom bought practically the entire store when they had a sale one time,” Jordan laughs. “She had bags and bags of it. To this day, I am still getting pictures of babies I don’t even know with ‘my’ bibs on.”
The Children’s Art Project’s lingering influence
Because Jordan has a prosthetic femur now, she can no longer play competitive softball or any other high-impact sports. But she insists she doesn’t mind.
“I have a titanium knee and a metal rod that stretches from my shin to my hip, but it hasn’t stopped me from doing anything I want to do,” she notes. “I’ve walked around Germany, Italy and Lake Tahoe, gone swimming with sharks in Hawaii, and hiked up Diamond Head in Honolulu. My life has been awesome.”
Jordan also continues to find a lot of pleasure in creativity, which she attributes at least in part to her involvement with the Children’s Art Project.
“I still find painting very therapeutic,” she says. “I live right across from Minute Maid Park now in downtown Houston. And I have great views out my windows. So, whenever I get some downtime, I look out the window and paint.”
The meaningful experience the Children’s Art Project gave Jordan as an adult
Jordan’s experience with the Children’s Art Project proved so meaningful to her that she applied for an internship with the program in the mid-2010s while she was in college.
“It helped make the hardest time of my life so special,” she says. “That’s why I wanted to be a part of it again as an adult.”
When Jordan’s colleagues at the Children’s Art Project learned she had once been a pediatric patient here, they arranged for her to mark a personal milestone in a way that she’d always wanted to — but never had — as a sweet surprise.
“The Children’s Cancer Hospital didn’t have a bell to ring by the time I finished my cancer treatment in 2006,” Jordan says. “So, while I was doing my internship, they took me back there and I finally got to ring it. It was really wonderful.”
Shop for Children’s Art Project merchandise online or at retail locations. Net proceeds support patient programs for children with cancer.
It helped make the hardest time of my life so special.