AJ Jarvis cheered when he found out he had Severe Aplastic Anemia.
SAA is life threatening. But the strong original hunch when it came to last year’s Med City FC goalie was that he had something even worse — Leukemia.
“After they’d done a bone biopsy on me, there were six doctors in the room,” said Jarvis, who was born in the outskirts of London. “When you see that many doctors all standing over you, and they tell you that they are 90 percent sure you have Leukemia, it’s scary.”
Jarvis has been staggered by the brilliance and care he’s received at the Fred & Pamela Buffett Cancer Center in Omaha, Neb., where he’s been diagnosed and treated.
But he was sure glad they got that initial prediction wrong.
They actually got it right the very next day. That after looking inside him for the chemical that definitively tells whether a patient has Leukemia or not.
They did not find it, bringing on Jarvis’ cheers. They told the 23-year-old that instead he has SAA, a disease of the bone marrow that radically depletes the body of blood cells.
It’s meant the 23-year-old Jarvis has been incredibly sick, including him passing out twice before checking himself into the hospital. It also includes a nurse telling him early on that she was stunned he was still alive, his blood counts so low.
But Jarvis, who was initially hospitalized for four days but is now treated every other day on an outpatient basis, and given three drugs to help him reboot his immune system, has been encouraged during his ordeal. That’s because doctors have told him the survival rate with SAA is 80 percent and that they like his chances even more because he’s young and has forever been a fitness fanatic.
Prior to getting sick, Jarvis was bicycling 25 miles every other day, as well as doing other workouts.
“That’s the one thing that is driving me crazy, is that I’m an athlete, and I have an inability right now to do any kind of exercise,” said Jarvis, who has to isolate himself most of the time, his immune system currently so compromised.
The thought of somehow contracting COVID-19 is the ultimate worry.
“If I get that, I’m a goner,” Jarvis said.
The London native has so much to live for. That includes getting married in October, his pursuit of a master's degree, and his unwavering desire to continue to play soccer.
Jarvis has one season still coming at Bellevue University in suburban Omaha and intends to use it the fall of 2021. He’s also hell bent on returning to play for Med City FC for a third season. His timeline for that is next spring, when he hopes his recovery is complete.
Jarvis’ Bellevue University team is one that he describes as “family.” He has much the same feeling about playing for Med City FC.
Both of these “families” have shown him unyielding support since his SAA diagnosis this summer. His Bellevue coaches have been contacting him every other day, while Med City FC General Manager Frank Spaeth has started a GoFundMe campaign for Jarvis, the collection going towards his exorbitant medical bills.
“I am honored to be able to say that I play for such a great program as Bellevue’s,” Jarvis said. “That is my soccer family. They’ve been phenomenal there for me. And Med City FC is my second (soccer) family. That is a club that really cares. Guys like Frank and Neil (Cassidy, the team’s head coach), they are my second (soccer) family. There are no words to describe how good they are on and off the field.”
Spaeth said he didn’t hesitate in getting something started to support Jarvis. He’s always been a special one to Spaeth and to so many others he’s touched in Rochester.
“AJ is just a great guy,” Spaeth said. “He was always willing when he was here to do whatever he could to help out with our community events. He’s very friendly, very outgoing, and also a really good goalie. But he’s an even better person.”
GOFUNDME FOR JARVIS
A GoFundMe page has been established for Jarvis, as he takes on huge medical costs for his Severe Aplastic Anemia treatments. Log on here to help: https://www.gofundme.com/f/help-aj-battle-lifethreatening-illness