'Pretty amazing': Bailey Jacobson battling for more than points
Bailey Jacobson a New Rockford Sheyenne student athlete was recently diagnosed with stage 3 Hodgkin lymphoma.
NEW ROCKFORD, N.D. — Bailey Jacobson was suspected to be pretty busy throughout the 2022-23 school year.
Her time spent on the New Rockford-Sheyenne varsity volleyball roster would eat up a good portion of the fall months and after she was done with volleyball, she expected to transition right into the Class B prep basketball season which would take her to at least mid-February.
One doctor's visit changed all of Jacobson's plans.
"She just hadn't been feeling good for the better part of a year," family friend Tiffany Schaefer said. "She was just tired. Nothing out of the ordinary, kids are so active and so busy and she is (no different).
"They started doing some doctoring in August. They did some lab work, and went back and forth trying this and trying that. They thought it was mono and tried some medicine but it wasn't (mono)."
The week of her 16th birthday, doctors confirmed and diagnosed Jacobson with stage 3 Hodgkin lymphoma.
"She got to come home that weekend — it was homecoming weekend here so she celebrated homecoming and her birthday," Schaefer said. "Then on Monday, she had to go back down to Fargo and started her chemo."
Jacobson is the second member of her family to be diagnosed with stage 3 Hodgkin Lymphoma. Her 10-year-old sister, Taylin, was diagnosed with the same cancer at the same stage five years ago. Taylin had her five-year checkup this last spring, and doctors confirmed that her cancer is in remission.
The family and the New Rockford community are just praying that the same will happen for Jacobson.
"I've known this family for 17 years," Schaefer said. "Our kids went to day care together. Bailey is one of my daughter's best friends and she is just the sweetest kid.
"Everyone rallies around a kid when they are sick there's no doubt. It's just been amazing watching the community come together."
Jacobson will have 12 rounds of chemotherapy at the Roger Maris Cancer Center in Fargo every other week. After four rounds of treatment, Jacobson will have a CT scan to make sure the chemo that is being administered is working. If there does not appear to be any improvement, doctors will change the type of chemo that Jacobson is receiving.
Each treatment takes anywhere from seven to nine hours and is administered every other Monday. The sophomore's fourth round of treatment is scheduled to be administered on Halloween. Her mother, Karla, said doctors are unsure if at the end of the 12 rounds she will have to take radiation at this time.
Aside from some nausea and headaches, Jacobson is responding quite well to her treatments. She attends school when she can and is still present at nearly all of the Rockets' volleyball practices and games.
"Bailey is doing as well as can be expected from a 16-year-old diagnosed with cancer," Karla said. "For the most part her spirits are up but some days are just harder than others. Overall she is doing well, except for a couple of days after treatment seems to be rough."
Schaefer said from the outside looking in, no one would know there's anything plaguing the Jacobson clan.
"Their family's attitude is very, very good and they are very positive that they can beat this," Schaefer said. "They are an amazing family. Everything that has been thrown at them, they just work their way through. They have true hearts of gold. We could all learn a million things from this family. They are pretty amazing."
Karla attributed her family's positive perspective to one thing.
"Our family has a strong faith base and without faith, life is really hard," Karla said. "It’s easy to be proud of Bailey, she will get through all this, but without a positive attitude and family and friends, it might be different. You must take what life hands you and it's how you react that makes all the difference with a whole lot of faith in God."
The way prep volleyball teams have reacted to Jacobson's news has been to support her in whatever way they can.
"Our team has been so supportive of her," New Rockford-Sheyenne head coach Sara Myhre said. "They bring her treats and check on her.
"She comes to practice on the weeks she doesn’t have appointments and watches her teammates practice while she helps shag balls or I will have her go and run a drill with them and tell the girls that coach Jacobson is running the drill, and she smiles back at me."
The Rockets ordered team T-shirts with the phrase "Battling for Bailey" inscribed on them and have been wearing them as the team's warm-up jerseys for the year. The team order spawned a community and region-wide sale that has sold well over 350 shirts so far. Five dollars of each T-shirt sale is donated directly to the Jacobson family to help assist with medical expenses.
"I’m amazed by her strength, and I know it's not easy for her, but she keeps fighting and we keep fighting with her," Myhre said. "She does not want people to feel sorry for her or to be sad. So we don’t make it sad when we are around her. We make it fun and normal just like any other day. She has so much support from her family, our community, her coaches, teammates and the surrounding volleyball teams."
Four other class B volleyball teams have purchased the "Battling for Bailey" T-shirts and have worn them as warm-up jerseys. When the Rockets traveled up to St. John for a game, the entire St. John team rallied around Bailey, presenting her with flowers and a card.
"They acknowledge her at all the games," Myhre said. "It brings tears to my eyes thinking of how much that means to her and her family to have all these wonderful caring people out there trying to help out in any way.
Langdon/AEM held a 50/50 raffle and donated all of the proceeds to help Jacobson's cause. Griggs-Midkota chose to head up a bake sale and donated all the money earned to the family. Other teams have held silent auctions and raffles to help the Jacobsons.
"Those moments we pause for Bailey it's just a reminder that volleyball doesn’t come first," Myhre said. "Our girls gather in a huddle to say a prayer for Bailey and we take that moment to realize how our acts of kindness and all the support everyone is giving to Bailey is so much more than the volleyball game we are about to play."
The town of New Rockford has taken a cue from the prep volleyball scene.
Schaefer helped organize a community-wide meat raffle benefit to help the family with medical expenses. The event is scheduled to be held on Nov. 3 at the New Rockford Eagles Club. The event begins at 4:30 p.m. and will run until 8 p.m.
Those who wish to contribute toward Bailey's cause can donate to the open bank account at Bank Forward, purchase a T-shirt or make a freewill donation. Karla said prayers for Bailey and the family are also always appreciated.
"Friends, family, surrounding communities, the New Rockford volleyball program and surrounding volleyball programs have really gone above and beyond to make Bailey feel it isn’t just her fight," Karla said. "It is absolutely humbling to me."