At 19 years old, Maxwell Jones was the oldest “kid” in the oncology unit at AdventHealth for Children in Orlando.
Jones was just starting his freshman year at the University of Central Florida when he was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia, a cancer that affects the blood and would require chemotherapy and a bone marrow transplant.
From his hospital bed, Jones documented his recovery on Facebook, posting videos singing Christmas carols and holding his baby nephew for the first time. But off-camera, mostly he asked his nurses lots of questions.
“They took an interest in me, and even more so when I told them I wanted to be a nurse,” Jones said.
He developed a special connection with night nurse Delaney Postma, a UCF graduate who cared for him during his first month of treatment and through his transplant.
“When you know anyone who wants to be a nurse, you want to inspire them to pursue that,” Postma recently told WESH 2 News, noting the role mentorship has played in her own career. “Nursing is a very unique profession. It takes a lot of mental strength, it takes a lot of physical strength, and those things tied together make it very difficult. And mentorship is how you get through it.”
Jones had long been interested in a nursing career but said it was his experience as a patient at AdventHealth and Postma that inspired him to choose pediatric oncology as his specialty.
“They planted the seed in my head that I could be a light for families going through what I went through, and I could be an example,” Jones said. “I see myself in all these patients.”
Max is now 23 years old and a junior in UCF’s College of Nursing. This year, Jones returned to the pediatric unit where he was treated, this time as a student nurse. And for the first time since Jones was accepted into the UCF nursing program, Jones and Postma were reunited.
“Coming to this floor and having nurses like Delaney, she really convinced me that I have a story to tell,” Jones said. “I was so happy, I was so overjoyed to show her where I’m at and to show her that I’m in these scrubs. I’m going to be a nurse.”