MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — After a five year battle, a teenager from Shakopee marked a year of good health with her doctor. But this time, they were out of the hospital room.
WCCO’s Natalie Nyhus shows us how a physician made good on a deal by celebrating her freedom from cancer.
Dr. Jakob Tolar and 16-year-old Imani Cornelius are reuniting on this very special day for a ride on the Mississippi.
“I was expecting a doctor’s uniform,” Cornelius said.
“No, I actually am a normal guy,” Tolar said.
He’s a normal guy, who saved her life. This river journey marks one year after Imani received a life-saving bone marrow transplant.
“It’s been a journey, that’s for sure. It was hard first being diagnosed with it. I didn’t believe it at first. Then it set in,” Cornelius said.
During treatments, Tolar and Imani bonded over their athletic interests: hers soccer, his kayaking.
“I told her that I kayaked to work a couple times a week. We made a deal, it was her idea not mine, that once the transplant is done and successful for real, which it is today, that we will go together on kayak,” Tolar said.
So, here they are today, paddling without worry in front of the very hospital they spent so many hours in fighting her disease.
“The goal of being able to kayak on the river with my own doctor seemed unreal. It seemed like a dream that couldn’t be achieved. The fact that I’m doing it now, it just shows that I can do anything,” Cornelius said.
After so much time spent as doctor and patient, this chance to feel ordinary is quite extraordinary. Today, they’re just Imani and Jakob.
“This is freedom, right?” Tolar said.
“I’m going to cherish this for the rest of my life,” Cornelius said.
Imani told Natalie she has big plans for her next adventure. She’d like to zip line. And Imani will keep kayaking. That’s because she received her very own boat for her 16th birthday.