My name is Jon, and I came back to a place I never thought I would to Block Out Cancer.

mott blog - jon norton blog imageWhen I was 12, I was diagnosed with ALL (acute lymphoblastic leukemia). For three years, I traveled five hours from my home near Sault Ste. Marie to Ann Arbor to receive chemo and check ups from the specialists at C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital. My dad and I made the drive down about once a week in the beginning when I was receiving chemo. All of my treatments were outpatient, so we drove back and forth more times than I can remember.

Quite honestly, I did not look forward to going to Mott most of the time because I associated it with being sick. During that time, I had numerous lumbar punctures, which are never fun. I got to the point that even though I’d nap in the car for most of the drive to Ann Arbor, I’d wake up at about the same spot on the highway every time and get anxious about what I’d face that day. I thought once I was healthy, I’d never step foot in a hospital again.

My journey back to Mott

Then things changed for me. I started to see how caring the nurses, doctors and staff were and how hard they worked to keep me comfortable during the lumbar punctures and other procedures. They had great skills to help me cope through even the worst appointments. That’s when something clicked and I decided to go to nursing school.

mott blog - jon at mott as a kid

Jon at age 12, shown during his own stay in the old Mott Children’s Hospital for cancer treatment as a child.

Coming from a Michigan State family, I headed off to nursing school at Michigan State, but my ultimate goal was to come back to Mott to work. When I graduated, I began looking for a position at the University of Michigan Health System, with an interest in pediatrics. I was fortunate enough to be hired by Mott where I now work the night shift on the hematology/oncology floor.

The kind of care I remember getting

I have the unique opportunity to care for many patients who are going through the same experiences I had. My history gives me a unique perspective in relating to my patients. I remember how patient the nurses were with me and I try to have that same patience with the children I care for.

Newly diagnosed patients and their parents seem to especially appreciate my story and experiences. It’s good for them to see someone who faced their same battle and is now healthy, happy and doing what he loves. Kids can be really frightened when they have a port put in. It’s a scary concept for them. Having been down that road, I can share with them how much they are going to appreciate the port as they go through treatment.

It’s just a great feeling to provide the kind of care I received when I was a patient. I’ve come full circle.

block out cancer donate nowSome things have changed, but others still need to

Some things, like medications, have changed for kids since I went through treatment. There are many side effects that come along with chemotherapy that can make kids very uncomfortable. We are utilizing different medications to help with these side effects and make children as comfortable as possible when receiving chemo.

There are other things that haven’t changed since I was treated. We are using many of the same treatment protocols to treat our patients, and while many of these are successful I know we have so much more we can do to help kids with cancer. Those treatments we’ve been using for over a decade for some of these cancers don’t work for all kids, and those of us who care for these kids know we can and should be able to do more.

Take the next step:


mott blog - jonathon norton thumbJon Norton, RN, is a night nurse on the pediatric hematology/oncology unit at C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital. When he’s not at work, he enjoys relaxing at home and spending time with his family.





mott blog - BOC thumbBlock Out Cancer is a rallying cry for people from all walks of life to come together to support the fight against children’s cancers.  Everyone has a role to play.  Learn more about how you can help Block Out Cancer.


best children's hospitalUniversity of Michigan C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital is consistently ranked one of the best hospitals in the country. It was nationally ranked in all ten pediatric specialties in U.S. News Media Group’s “America’s Best Children’s Hospitals,” and among the 10 best children’s hospitals in the nation by Parents Magazine. In December 2011, the hospital opened our new 12-story, state-of-the-art facility offering cutting-edge specialty services for newborns, children and women.


9 thoughts on “My name is Jon, and I came back to a place I never thought I would to Block Out Cancer.

  1. Wow Jon, I really enjoyed your story…mostly because it’s almost identical to mine. I was diagnosed at 12 with CML (chronic myelogenous leukemia, had a BMT at Mott’s in ’98. I’m currently going to school for a BSN in hopes of being able to give back what was given to me at such a young age. Like you, I feel I can offer something special to patients that most nurses couldn’t. You are an inspiration to many!

  2. avatar
    Jodi Poyma, RN on said:

    My name is Jodi Poyma. I am an RN graduating from LCC this past December. My younger brother is a childhood cancer survivor from Mott’s. He survived Burkitt’s lymphoma. He was first diagnosed when he was 5 years old. Mott’s saved his life in my opinion. He survived 30 years and then last year he was diagnosed with Leiomyosarcoma. It was in his bladder and to make a long story short he has a sarcoma team at U of M and a “neo” bladder. We thought everything was awesome. His bladder works perfectly and he had been in remission for just over a year when he was diagnosed with pancreatic adenocarcinoma. So by the age of 40 he has been diagnosed with 3 different cancers. He was sent to Mayo and they are working with U of M and Lack’s out of GR. I just set up his first round of chemo for Tuesday. He and my family are my inspirations for nursing. I want to work in pediatric oncology at Mott’s. I graduated with my RN from LCC and now I am doing the RN to BSN at U of M Flint online. I would very much like to communicate with you about my journey to help other cancer patients and their families. It is a passion of mine that is so dear to my heart. I was required to put an e-mail in to submit this that won’t be published. If you cannot read it, but read this comment and would be able to communicate with me about my journey please comment me back. Thank you for your time, Jodi Poyma

  3. avatar
    Monica Marcelis Fochtman, PhD on said:

    Jon- CONGRATULATIONS on being a #childhoodcancer survivor! And, on being a #SpartanNurse! In 2008, our son was diagnosed with stage 4 cancer at age 3, and like you, he was treated at Mott. It was sometimes very tough for this Spartan family to be surrounded by all that maize and blue! But, we are so grateful to the amazing staff of nurses, doctors, and child life specialists who provided such heartfelt care for our son and our family. THANK YOU for all that you are doing to help other families.

  4. avatar
    Yvette Harris, Manager Pediatric Surgery on said:

    To Jon and to others that have commented on his post. I too have the similar story as he did except at age 3 I was diagnosed with Wilms Tumor, which for those who don’t know, Wilms Tumor is a malignant cancer of the kidney. I remember the many drives for an hour to Mott, to receive both radiation treatment and chemotherapy. Between the treatments and complications and additional surgeries…I was back and forth to Mott more times than I can remember. During that time, there were no outpatient clinics for receiving chemo, so for each treatment I stayed a week in the hospital. As Jon, I remember dreading the drive to come here because I knew what I was was going to face. Even back then the nurses and doctors were great…Little did I know that I would now be working in the same department that gave me back my life, Pediatric Surgery. I am a manager here and daily I see kids who are sick with cancer or some other life changing disease. I also see their resiliency just as I had at their age. I could go on and on with my story…and I appreciate this blog for hearing stories like Jon’s and realizing that there are many people that work here at Mott with strong emotional ties that others would never know. We have all come full circle. I think the opportunity to share also gives strength to the families who may have a child that is facing the same types of devistating diagnosis, to give hope that there is light at the end of the tunnel.

  5. avatar
    Laura Dayok on said:

    I am a second cousin of Jon’s but we have never met. I remember my grandparents talking about how proud they were of everything he has accomplished. He’s such an amazing young guy.

  6. avatar
    Sarah Schultz (lil Ronnie) on said:

    Jon before I had any idea about your story I knew there was something different about you, a kind of comfort,calming vibe that came from you. I want you to know I truly believe you are a living angel to our children. There were plans for you to get better and do exactly what you are doing. God has a plan! I am inspired and grateful to be a part of your journey and you a part of ours. With much love and gratitude, Schultz’s, Little Ronnie aka star wars fan!

  7. avatar
    Jordan Dillon on said:

    I can vouch for this guy! Not only is he a fellow yooper but he has personally taken care of my sister Jessica Jorgensen who has the same form of cancer as he did!

    Thanks Jon!! You’re an amazing individual!

  8. whoah this blog is magnificent i love studying your articles.
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