Less than three years ago, she was diagnosed with an aggressive form of cancer. This year, she shined brightly on televisions across the country during an episode of Law and Order: Special Victims Unit.
But Jayna Schenk, 17, of Delmar, is not a national celebrity. She is a local teen who is battling cancer, which is now in remission, and got to see one of her dreams come true.
According to her mother, Diane Schenk, she and Jayna's father, Doug, first learned of Jayna's Acute Myeloid Leukemia when she was visiting her uncle in Florida.
Jayna came down with a painful migraine, her mother said, and was brought to the hospital, where her blood was tested and the disease was discovered. She was officially diagnosed in August 2007.
Schenk said the symptoms of Jayna's disease were present, although the disease itself was not immediately recognizable.
"She had been sick for a few months, but we couldn't pinpoint it," she said.
According to Schenk, Jayna's disease was attacking her white blood cells rapidly, with the cells mutating and causing many complications, including severe headaches.
Once doctors discovered Jayna had AML, her mother said, they knew she would have to endure rigorous treatment in hopes to cure the aggressive disease.
Jayna was recommended for five cycles of chemotherapy, Schenk said, although her body responded to the treatment and went into remission almost immediately after her first treatment.
"She was advanced, but not as advanced as other children," said Schenk. "[Her body] just took to the chemo."
In addition, Schenk said Jayna became part of an experimental study for chemotherapy medications that she thinks also helped Jayna stay in remission, along with the four other rounds of treatment that doctors said were necessary to completely fight off Jayna's disease.
Schenk said that while some chemotherapy treatments allow patients to return home after the treatments, Jayna was required to stay in the hospital for several weeks, averaging about 60 days per treatment round.