INDIANAPOLIS -- How many strangers do you pass every day? Five? Ten?
Have you ever thought maybe one of those strangers could have the ability or knowledge to save your life? When you consider that, the possibilities are endless.
Ann St. John knows a thing or two about being someone’s “miracle stranger".
Upon learning about a Bloomington man’s battle with Lymphoma, she knew better than to just donate to the couple’s GoFundMe page. St. John wanted to speak with them. She had knowledge that could save his life.
Back in 2008, St. John’s stepson, Zachary May, died of Lymphoma. He was in Omaha, at the University of Nebraska Medical Center, and had just received a stem cell transplant when he passed away.
Despite the loss, St. John took away some very valuable knowledge: there is a great team of Lymphoma specialists in Omaha.
“I did know how awful that monster was. I did know how sharp his teeth were. They didn't know that. You have to have the experience before you have the learning. It just works that way,” said St. John.
The Hockett Family
Fast forward several years. St. John learned about Jeff Hockett’s battle against Lymphoma. With that knowledge in her back pocket, she didn’t waste a moment reaching out to Jeff and his wife, Shauna.
“That was not going to happen on my watch again. If I had something to do with it,” said St. John as she remembered the death of Zachary.
With the advice of St. John, Jeff and Shauna Hockett traveled to Omaha for a second opinion. The doctors there agreed with the original treatment plan in Indiana. So, they came home and continued with treatment.
However, months later, after beating Lymphoma once, the cancer came back in his kidneys. He was very, very sick.
Last July, Shauna brought her very sick husband to Indianapolis. What they thought would be a couple days in the hospital turned into several months.
The worst day
That day, doctors told the Hocketts there was nothing left to do. Jeff would die of Lymphoma. It was the worst day of their lives.
Until it turned into the day they made the best decision of their lives. “We didn't take no for an answer,” says Jeff.
Upon getting the devastating news, a storm of prayers and phone calls rained down. Shauna knew they had to do what they had avoided all these months: they needed a Hail Mary and that Hail Mary was to get Jeff to the University of Nebraska Medical Center.
Jeff was so sick and medicated, he doesn’t remember too much of this journey. However, Shauna says that God worked miracle after miracle that day.
First a phone call was received at UNMC, then a medical flight was directed to Omaha, a bed opened up and finally Jeff received a life-saving dose of chemotherapy immediately once they arrived in Nebraska.
“Every day I praise God she's in our life and that she told us about Nebraska,” says Shauna.
“We of course didn't want to go but she was so adamant and I praise God she was because, of course, we wanted to be in our safety net,” explained Shauna.
On the Road to Recovery
The advice from St. John and the last minute trip to Omaha saved Jeff’s life. Eventually, he received a stem cell transplant.
Still today, months later, he is working to increase his energy and strengthen his immune system. “It worked. What they did worked. I mean, here I am,” says Jeff.
PHOTOS | Jeff's Journey
Now, both he and Shauna say they feel called to share their story of how God used a perfect stranger to work a miracle. “God used their story to help us,” says Shauna.
The Hocketts believe God sustained them and continues to sustain them. Along this journey, they say they’ve witnessed mini-miracles and huge acts of kindness.
Another group of strangers, the Omaha Fire Department, learned of the Hockett’s story and offered to furnish their Omaha apartment. They lived in Nebraska for nearly five months.
So, when they needed to move out of the hospital but into an apartment in Omaha, it was a relief to have all the things they needed.
“God continues to show us that He fulfills His promises and will provide for our every need,” wrote Shauna.
As they recover from their years long battle with cancer, they’re enjoying being back in the Bloomington area, on their family’s blueberry farm.
With grateful hearts, they’ve invited the public to a celebration of life and a Minor League Football Alliance game on June 12th.
The Indiana Cutters will take on the Tri-City Outlaws. The band Jeff used to play with (and hopefully will again in the future), Jake Dodds, has agreed to play before kickoff.
The money raised will help the Hocketts pay for Jeff’s continued medical bills. Jeff will serve as the honorary head coach.