Jesse's Story

“I’ll never forget the doctor saying, ‘I just want to let you know that Jesse’s stable,’” Wendy King recalled. “And I looked at him and kind of laughed and said, ‘Why wouldn’t he be? He’s 20.’”

Fighting cancer took on a different meaning for Jesse King during his senior year at Penn State University. 

The outgoing club volleyball player became a THON chair, ready to carry on his mom’s legacy of being a THON dancer. But just before he could participate in the event, which raises money and awareness for the fight against childhood cancer, his world turned upside down.

Jesse had been having trouble swallowing. He was undergoing a procedure to figure out why when his heart stopped. He was airlifted to Penn State Hershey Medical Center and put on life support for five weeks. Meanwhile, doctors found a large, cancerous mass near his heart and esophagus. 

Jesse spent four months at Select Medical’s Penn State Health Rehabilitation Hospital while undergoing chemotherapy. Then, he continued with outpatient rehabilitation with Select Physical Therapy, working to regain strength and relearn basic life skills like walking, talking and eating.

Select Physical Therapy Occupational Therapist and Center Manager Jamie Sheriff has been working with Jesse on neurological rehabilitation. She says Jesse likes to keep the sessions active, and his family is always there to cheer him on.

Jesse’s parents say without the help and support of Select Medical, Jesse wouldn’t be as far along as he is now. And while his journey is far from over, they’re optimistic he will return to an independent, happy life. 

It’s an honor to work with patients like Jesse and his family, whose strength, courage and heart inspire us daily. Keep working hard, Jesse!

The Jesse King Story

Play the accessible version of the “The Jesse King Story” video

Read More Patient Success Stories