GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — A West Michigan teen got the chance to learn from a professional wake surfer thanks to the connections he made during his time in treatment at Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital.
Jacob Radlinski was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma last spring when he was 17 years old. He had just finished up a track meet, competing for Grand Rapids West Catholic, when he noticed what he thought was a cold was not going away.
“I was so lightheaded and short of breath that I could hardly even stand or walk,” he said.
While Radlinski’s primary doctor wasn’t able to figure out what was wrong with him, a trip to the emergency room revealed a large lump in the teen’s chest.
“Despite the circumstances, at the point there, it was honestly a relief to know just because I was in the hospital for over a week, I was very sick and none of the doctors really knew why,” he said.
He underwent six rounds of chemotherapy and spent some time as an inpatient at Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital in Grand Rapids.
Hospital officials connected Radlinksi with a national group that links up young adult patients with mentors from across the country. Because of Radlinski’s love for boats, boating and wake surfing, he was paired with the CEO of Malibu Boats, as well as a professional wake surfer. Malibu Boats even hosted Radlinski and his family for a day out on the boat, where he could show off his regained strength while enjoying a day on the lake.
“To actually have them come in person and spend the day with them, I was not expecting that at all. That was super cool and a really big surprise,” he said.
He is now at Notre Dame, where he joined the school’s running club. He is close to one year cancer-free.