UPDATE December 30, 2017: Jeremy died December 29, 2017. Click to view his obituary.
Jeremy Ingham (’17) is well-known in the Valley as a positive force. Despite facing considerable hurdles in his young life, he is upbeat and continues to be a bright light for family and friends, influencing many and leaving a lasting impression on those he encounters.
Jeremy was raised in Wolfville and diagnosed with bone cancer in 2013 when he was 17, a few months before he graduated high school. Because of his surgery and chemotherapy treatments, he had to defer his acceptance to Acadia University until fall 2014. Growing up, Jeremy swam competitively with the Wolfville Tritons Swim Club from 2004-2013 and this partially influenced his decision to attend Acadia.
In June 2016, his cancer recurred: he had a second surgery and underwent radiation treatment. Unfortunately, cancer returned in July 2017 and he was told then that it was inoperable and he had exhausted all available treatment options. Despite the news, Jeremy remained positive, establishing a memorial fund for cancer research through the Beatrice Hunter Cancer Research Institute and the IWK Foundation in Halifax.
Scientist at heart
Jeremy considers himself a scientist at heart. He questions everything and tries to solve problems. When he graduated from high school, he says he had no idea what he wanted to do. However, “I liked every science class in high school, so when it came time to pick my major I chose chemistry because it’s often referred to as the ‘central science’ since there is a lot overlap between physics and biology.”
During his illness, he became interested in the science behind the disease and how certain types of drugs and treatments work. When he returned to school, he switched to a double major in biology and chemistry to further expand his knowledge.
Jeremy chose Acadia for several reasons. He grew up in the Valley, enjoys living here and wanted to stay in the area. The strong community at the University was also attractive. He says it’s easy to foster close relationships with professors, staff and students at Acadia, and there’s a sense of community here that he didn’t feel when considering other schools.
The rebirth of the varsity swim team was also a factor in Jeremy’s decision to attend Acadia. One of his proudest achievements was being able to return to swimming after his illness and compete on the varsity squad during the 2015-2016 season.
He received an entrance scholarship that he maintained for two years that helped greatly. Because of his illness, he was unable to have a summer job before he started university so having the scholarship helped to reduce some financial stress.
He says the Acadia community and the institution itself have helped him in many ways, professionally and personally. One of the things that the biology and chemistry departments emphasize is being able to write scientifically and interpret scientific literature. Jeremy says that Acadia taught him the skills to gather information on his own, to understand and interpret it, and formulate an opinion about it.
Motivated to give back
When Jeremy learned that his cancer was terminal, giving back became much more important to him. “I knew it was unlikely that I would be taking a full course load during the 2017-2018 academic year,” he says, “so I had money that was intended for school that was probably not going to be used. The sport of swimming has taught me many important life lessons, so the decision to give back to my team was easy.”
He noticed that the men’s locker room was in need of upgrades and although there had been talk about renovations, the funds weren’t in the team’s budget. Jeremy decided to donate to upgrade the locker room, and knowing it would benefit the team was an important factor in the decision.
On a more personal level, “Acadia went above and beyond to help accommodate me when I had to put a pause on school because of my illness. I had many classmates who were willing to share their notes when I couldn’t attend class and my professors gave me a generous amount of time to complete any missed work without having to feel like I was rushing back into things.
“The most commendable thing Acadia did was organize a Convocation ceremony for me this last October because of my situation. It was arranged in a rather timely fashion and could not have been done without the caring of many staff and faculty members, in particular, Director of Open Acadia and then Acting Registrar Dr. Jeff Banks, who was largely in charge and made it a special day for everyone who attended.”
Simple, straightforward message
Jeremy’s message to current and future students is simple. “Just keep going. A little bit of pressure can be a good thing. Make good use of your time here because it goes much quicker than you think. And don’t be afraid to push beyond your comfort zone in academics, sports, clubs, and social situations. To those who are trying to find their path in life, know that it’s okay to not know what you want to do in the future. It’s better to wait until you have that genuine moment where you discover what really drives you than to jump into something unimportant because it was a safer choice.”
Jeremy is passionate about establishing a scholarship for a couple of reasons. He wants to see cancer eradicated, of course, and he was training to become a cancer researcher when the disease took over.
“While most research is conducted by graduate students and professors, I see the value in training undergraduate students in cancer research as well,” he says. “It allows those who have a keen interest to get an early start. For those who are unsure, it offers a glance at what it’s like and gives them valuable experience nonetheless.”
His ambition is fueled by the same good nature and persistence that has propelled him over so many hurdles in the past, and his bright light – his legacy – will continue to shine for years to come.
You can make a difference
If you would like to get involved, make a difference and support Jeremy’s efforts in the fight against cancer, please donate to the Jeremy Ingham Cancer Research Trust.
Donations may also be made by mail or telephone to the IWK Foundation and please specify that the donation is directed toward Jeremy’s trust.
5855 Spring Garden Road Suite B220
Halifax, Nova Scotia B3H 4S2