By Keisha Villarson —
It seemed that nothing could slow down the career of Jaclyn Sabol, J/MS 2004. She was the video host for the New Jersey Nets basketball team, star of her web show, “Jac of all Nets,” and emcee for NBA Nation’s Summer tour.
With the move of the Nets to Brooklyn later this year, this multi-talented journalist had everything in place. The last thing she ever expected was the diagnosis of a massive brain tumor.
Three weeks after the end of NBA Nation’s Summer Tour in 2010, she was invited to go to China for six weeks as a judge for a reality dance show.
“There were no symptoms then,” she said. “I was just very tired and draggy, which for me was unusual because I am always doing a million things.”
At first Sabol attributed her fatigue to the stress of travel or jet lag. But after visiting her boyfriend, an American basketball player who plays in China, Sabol started to get terrible headaches.
“Literally, the day after I got home I couldn’t get myself out of bed that day and started calling into work sick,” said Sabol.
When the pain in her head started making her throw up, she knew it was time to see a doctor. He prescribed a painkiller.
“That night I ended up in the emergency room, and the very first thing they did was a CT [computerized tomography] scan,” she said. “They immediately saw that I had a tumor in my right frontal lobe.”
Sabol was admitted to the ICU and had brain surgery in September 2010.
With the successful surgery behind her, Sabol returned to work five weeks later. But she soon learned she needed radiation and chemotherapy to prevent her tumor, an astrocytoma, from coming back.
“I think I went into shock when I heard,” Sabol said. “It is a totally different diagnosis, but I was very glad that we figured it out because I didn’t want it to be two years later and have it come back.” Sabol kept a positive attitude as she started treatment last February.
“It took me months to say the word “cancer,” she went on. “I could not even verbalize it because I thought to myself, Is it going to affect my speech or sarcasm, the things that made me who I am and the reason why I have the job I have?”
Sobol started her career soon after graduation when she went from dancing for the Rutgers dance team to dancing for the Nets. She came up with an idea for a fan-motivating web series with herself as the host.
“Right away we started shooting and before you knew it I was covering everything,” Sabol said.
Sabol’s success with the Nets led her to become the first female to host the NBA Nation’s Summer Tour with previous host Michael Garcia. She enjoyed meeting fans across the country.
“I’m used to interacting with only New Jersey or New York fans so for me it was so cool to be in Denver, Phoenix or L.A.,” she said. “To be a woman in the business and to be invited to something like that really meant a lot to me…. I had the time of my life!”
A year after the cancer procedure, she was able to get back to host the 2011 Summer Tour. She is now most of the way through her chemotherapy. “I never let a day go by where I forget how lucky I am,” she said.