A true fighter – every single day

Jon Simmons and his daughter, Erin McBee. They graduated from the nursing program at La. Tech at the same time.

By Paige Nash

Anyone who knows Jon Simmons would say that his life revolves around three things: faith, family and his desire to help others. That is why he became a nurse in March 2012. He worked as an ER nurse at Minden Medical Center for 8 years. He never imagined that is where he would receive his very own cancer diagnosis in January 2015. Since then, Jon has been battling Renal cell carcinoma, a type of kidney cancer that begins in the lining of the small tubes of the kidneys. 

How do you care for the sick in the community while you are facing a battle of your own? Jon continued to support and aid patients while he was taking chemo pills and radiation. He even worked in the ER during the first phase of Covid-19. 

“Jon came to work every day that he was supposed to,” said Courtney Browder, fellow ER nurse, “He never missed a beat. We all knew he was hurting or maybe even miserable, but it never stopped him. He never threw a flag.” 

Jon remained dedicated to his job and his patients. “He is literally the strongest man I know,” said Simmons’ wife, Jacquelyn, “The illness I have seen him fight against, taking medications that make you sicker than the cancer itself, all while going to work with all he had going on and trying to support others who were sick while he was fighting for his life.” 

Jon eventually underwent surgery to have his left kidney removed. The days following his surgery were very critical, but he pulled through. He remained cancer-free until May of 2017, when he received the news that he was now battling metastatic cancer. It had spread to other parts of his body. 

In January 2021 he was hospitalized for five days. While he was there, he suffered the loss of his mother-in-law. He somehow managed to become stable enough to get released to attend her funeral but ended up back in the hospital a few days later. He finally started to make improvements right before his own mother passed and again made sure he was well enough to be released to attend her funeral. These are only a few of the hard times he and his family have endured over the course of his cancer journey, but it has been full of good times, as well.  

“He is a fighter,” said Jacquelyn. “He came across this big illness and has taken it head on, not letting it dictate his life. He has lived it to the fullest and is still making plans on enjoying future dreams. He is not giving up.” She describes every day they have together as a gift. 

Over the course of this journey, Jon and his wife have married off four of their children and are getting ready to welcome more grandchildren to the family in the next few months.They have both realized how precious their time is and are doing all they can to cherish every moment.  

His faith has remained strong, and he rests in the fact that he does not have to fight his battles alone. With God, prayers and the support of his family and friends he is fully covered. 

“His faith is unwavering,” said Simmons’ daughter, Erin, “No matter if he gets bad news, he just takes the punches and rolls with them. If anyone is dealing with someone in their family having cancer, or has cancer themselves, he is a good person to talk to and loves being able to help people since he can no longer do bedside nursing.” 

He will tell you that he is thankful that God has used him as a stepping stone to minister and encourage others throughout their own cancer journeys. 

“I did actually have a patient or two with cancer,” said Simmons. “It helped us bond and support each other.” 

His life began to take a different shape. When asked what one piece of advice he would give to someone who just received their diagnosis, he said, “It’s a marathon, not a sprint. Healing will come slowly.” 

Jon just completed 18 total days of radiation and will be taking medication for the remaining cancer in his ribs, lymph nodes and right kidney. 

To him he is just a normal guy who loves God, his family and his friends, but to everyone else he is an inspiration, a true fighter every single day. 

Simmons rings the bell as he finishes his 18 radiation treatments at Highland Cancer Treatment Center.

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