40ºF

Former Hokie walks from Virginia to California to inspire others

Sebastien Jacques will shake hands with surgeon who gave him "second chance"

BLACKSBURG, Va. – May is Melanoma and Brain Cancer Awareness Month.

In Conquering Cancer, WSLS 10's Dawn Jefferies shares an inspiring story about a young man who had quite a scare.

Sebastien Jacques walked across the Virginia Tech campus Monday, recalling his time at the university. He was a senior in 2011 when his life took an unexpected turn.

"I was dizzy. I had head pressure and I had muscle weakness," he recalled.

It was unfamiliar territory for Jacques, a champion tennis player on an athletic scholarship. 

"For the next four years, I was basically in hospitals seeing doctors trying to figure out what was happening to my body."

Doctors later discovered he had a benign tumor in his brain. Jacques said no one would touch it, except for a single neurosurgeon in Santa Monica, California, who did the delicate procedure five to 10 times a year.   

"To me it was like, finally. After all that time of fighting and waking up not feeling well but always keeping hope and believing that I was going to regain my life, it was finally a ticket to my normal life again."

At the time, he could barely walk.

"I wasn't able to walk more than 15 minutes. Today... here I am walking eight hours a day across America."

His stop in Blacksburg is part of his walk from Virginia Beach to Santa Monica, where he will shake the hand of the surgeon he says gave him a second chance at life.

"The toughest part is to wake up every morning and do it again. I think everyone can do 20 miles of walking in a day but to do it again and again and again is the hard part."

Sebastien was fortunate the tumor wasn't cancer but says he would have tackled it with the same positive attitude and take it one day, or one step, at a time.

"You don't take your health for granted any more and the other side is your perception of life," he said.

"You're lucky to be alive and should be able to wake up in the morning with a smile on your face and be like, life is amazing. Just make it the best you can every day and be the best person you can be."

His cross country journey is expected to end in October but his resolve to never give up will stay with him for a lifetime.

You can follow Jacques' journey here.