Jessie MacDonald is a Special Olympics athlete from Cohasset, Massachusetts, and is the definition and personification of perseverance. If you’re looking for a sob story you’re not going to find one here. Yes, Jessie has been diagnosed with cancer. She’s had four surgeries in the last three years. Yes, it affects her everyday life and has cut down on what sports she can play.

She’s gone through a round of radiation days before racing with her team in skiing. She goes through another round of chemotherapy before state Winter Games this March. She says that skiing helps stabilize her, keeping her mind off what she is going through. She’s also going to the Polar Plunge fundraiser at Nantasket Beach in Hull.

She’s an Olympian if ever there was one. Here she is in her own words.

Jessica MacDonald

I have been Plunging for 12 years and I have been involved in Special Olympics since 1993. I’ve won in powerlifting, four gold medals in Iowa for lifting, have done up to 12 sports, but now am down to two sports now do to my cancer. I have done track and field, basketball, bowling, skiing, powerlifting, sailing, soccer, softball, snow boarding, tennis and swimming. I have not been able to keep up with my sports do to my illness.

I struggle more, but you wouldn’t know I have cancer. I have let go of a lot of my sports now because I don’t have the strength that I had since four years with my illness. I now do soccer, skiing and am on hold for swimming now until my arm closes up from where my scabs are. I found it a lot harder, but try to still do the best I can. I just take one day at a time and look at it as being a dream. That’s what makes it through each day.

I think [about] when I wasn’t sick with my illness and if I over think it, I sometimes get upset, so I try to just try to say it’s okay, just get me through each day. When I get tired it’s just nap time. I know when I need my rest, I can feel it right away so I will, to help me get through the day. I live my life in a lot off pain, but try to live my life without worrying what’s going to happen. I am a fighter with my battle, but I have had a lot of changes now since I am not allowed to do a lot of sports, but keep the faith it’s okay, I look at my cancer as a dream.

— Jessie MacDonald


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