Follow-Up Friday: After surviving a gunshot wound and cancer, Jamie is motivated to continue beating the odds

By Jade Waddy

Hello, my name is Jamie Richards. I’ll be 21 in October and I’ve survived death a few times. At 19, I was shot and left for dead.

I was shot at my college apartment off campus in Stephenville, Texas, on December 10, 2017, by a complete stranger who went to the wrong apartment. The bullet shattered the top of my spine and completely severed my spinal cord (C1-C4).

Now, I’m in a wheelchair and I’m considered a quadriplegic which, means I’m paralyzed. I was taken to TIRR Memorial Hermann where over the last two years, I’ve spent approximately 10 weeks in various phases of my rehabilitation.

And now, at 20, I’m fighting leukemia.

In January 2019, I was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia. However, I recently completed all of my chemotherapy and my doctor says I’m in remission!

Since I first arrived at TIRR Memorial Hermann, therapy and my faith have been very important in getting me to where I am today and I’ll be going back soon to rebuild my strength after months of chemotherapy.

With the help of physical and occupational therapy, I’ve been able to continue to do things I love such as photography. One of the first things I did in occupational therapy was painting. That moment sparked something in me and I’ve been painting ever since.

I love taking pictures of nature and I’ve worked on how to adapt my camera so I can continue taking photos. Some of my artwork and photography is featured in the Restoration in Motion Exhibit at the Rick Smith Gallery at Memorial Hermann-Texas Medical Center.

Music therapy was my favorite thing at TIRR and my music therapist would come to some of my therapy sessions and we would jam to country and Christian music.  Cody Johnson, Lauren Daigle and George Strait are my all-time favorite artists! I even had the chance to speak with Cody Johnson on the phone and meet him and his wife.

I love anything outdoors. Prior to my accident, I used to hunt, fish and go mudding. Since I love these activities so much, those activities are now some of the goals I’m currently working on in physical and occupational therapy, along with learning how to care for myself again. I’m learning how to dress myself, cook, and drive!

I’m a Christian and my faith is what has kept me going through my recent trials of life. I love Jesus! My favorite verse is Isaiah 43:2 “When you go through deep waters, I will be with you. When you go through rivers of difficulty, you will not drown. When you walk through the fire of oppression, you will not be burned up; the flames will not consume you.”

I recently went back to college. I’m a psychology major at Tarleton State University. My goal is to work at a hospital and be a child life specialist to help children cope with being in the hospital whether, that is by bringing them a stuffed animal or just being there to comfort them.

I know firsthand how scary hospitals can be. I love children and I want to be there for them. I feel like this is my calling in life! Now that I am in remission, I look forward to what is next for me because this is just the beginning.

For more information on cancer services at Memorial Hermann Cancer Center, visit https://cancer.memorialhermann.org. To learn more about rehabilitation services at TIRR Memorial Hermann visit http://tirr.memorialhermann.org.

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