, Derry, New Hampshire

November 29, 2012

Derry teen is named a 'champion'

By Julie Huss

---- — DERRY — A Derry teenager was one of 17 youth honored at the Statehouse recently as “champion” children.

Pinkerton senior Janelle James received the honor from the state’s Council for Children and Adolescents with Chronic Health Conditions as part of Childhood Chronic Health Conditions Awareness Week.

Janelle, 17, was nominated by Pinkerton staff members Linda Brennick and Sandra Adams.

Janelle, called “humbly courageous, positively determined and strong in fortitude” in the nomination letter, was diagnosed with acute myeloblastic leukemia at 14.

She endured chemotherapy and spent her entire freshman year of high school in Children’s Hospital in Boston.

She is now known as the “Energizer Bunny” around the Pinkerton campus, excelling in her classes and doing everything a typical teen does.

“She attended the junior prom, took driver’s education, and even traveled to China as part of the annual Pinkerton exchange program and toured in a motorized wheelchair,” Pinkerton spokesman Chip Underhill said.

He said Janelle’s objective is to someday become a teacher. Her health challenges continue, including having a second hip replacement earlier this month.

For Janelle, a career as a math teacher appeals. She said getting the award was “pretty wonderful.”

“I love math,” she said, “and I always wanted to be a teacher.”

She will be back in the classroom in a few weeks.

Both Brennick and Adams said Janelle lives far beyond her young years in wisdom and maturity.

“Her passion is to live as a responsible, caring and healthy woman,” they wrote in their nomination. “Janelle was confronted with the end of her childhood, yet conquered cancer with a prowess and victoriously sweet smile.”

All award winners met Gov.-elect Maggie Hassan, who also has an adult child with a severe condition. Hassan once served on the Council for Children and Adolescents with Chronic Health Conditions.

“This was a celebration of amazing young people who overcome serious health issues,” said Jeff Woodburn, executive director of the council. “Despite the challenges. they live normal lives and inspire us all.”

Janelle continues to inspire at her school.

“She is an inspiration,” Woodburn said. “We are so happy to learn her story and tell it to others.”

Mom Lixandra is very proud.

“You look at her and you don’t know all she’s gone through,” she said.

Janelle is on track to graduate with her class in the spring and is looking forward to choosing a college.