Alex Jokich didn’t want to attend Timothy Christian High School. She was content at her local public school, surrounded by familiar friends she’d grown up with. Her public high school offered advanced classes and boasted high test scores, but still, Alex’s parents weren’t fully satisfied with the environment.
“My parents wanted me to be surrounded by teachers and friends who would be a good influence on my life during those formative years,” says Alex. “It was the best decision that my parents ever made for me.”
So Alex transferred to Timothy as a freshman. She joined the tennis, cheerleading and soccer teams and made new friends. Unlike her large public school, Alex discovered that she was never just a number at Timothy. In fact, all of her teachers not only knew her name, but also rallied behind her and supported her. By the time she was a senior, she dreamed of becoming a broadcast journalist.
“Being surrounded by faithful friends during my high school years affected the way that I see the world,” Alex says. “Being at Timothy kept me grounded and focused in a very positive way.”
After she graduated from Timothy in 2005, Alex attended Pepperdine University in Malibu, California. While in college, she interned at NBC Chicago, NBC Los Angeles and a small news station in Orange County, California. Alex graduated from Pepperdine in 2009 with a degree in broadcast news and a minor in sociology. A few months later, she landed a job at a CBS/FOX affiliate in Traverse City/Cadillac, Michigan as a general assignment reporter. By 2012, Alex was ready for the next step in her career. She moved to the CBS affiliate in Kalamazoo/Grand Rapids.
Alex had landed in a top 40 TV market.
With a blossoming career, Alex poured all her time and energy into her job. But two years ago, while she was live on air, she couldn’t catch her breath. She felt like her lungs were closing up.
At first, she shook it off. But it kept happening.
“It was embarrassing and frustrating,” Alex says. “My job was to talk. And I couldn’t.”
Alex began a long journey searching for answers. She went to specialists and was tested for a host of ailments. Nothing made sense. Until one specialist ordered a CT scan. Her doctor spotted a nodule on her thyroid.
Ninety-nine percent of the time thyroid nodules are benign. Alex was told not to worry, but to come back in six months to recheck her thyroid.
Six months later, after an ultrasound scan and a needle biopsy, Alex had her answer.
She had thyroid cancer. At the age of twenty-eight.
“My cancer diagnosis threw my world for a loop,” Alex admits. “I had just hit a big market and I was focused on my career. Cancer gave me a new perspective on life and showed me how my best-laid plans could be uprooted in a second.”
It was an aggressive form of thyroid cancer, so Alex was forced to take medical leave from the job that she loved. She moved back home to be treated. Once again, the Timothy community rallied behind her. “It was a relief to have so many people in my life praying for me,” Alex says. “Old friends from Timothy visited me, supported me, and lifted me up in prayer.”
She underwent two different surgeries to remove her entire thyroid. It was an aggressive treatment, but left little chance of any cancer cells surviving. Eight weeks later, she was cleared to return to work and was back on the air.
Cancer, though, had given her an unexpected gift: Empathy.
Alex had made a career of telling other people’s stories. Stories that were sometimes rooted in tragedy — after trauma, death, and illnesses. When her own health was uncertain, and not promised, it expanded the way she thought about other people.
“Cancer made me a more empathetic and human reporter,” Alex says. “I appreciate that people feel like they can trust me and share their stories with me.”
It’s this reporting style that earned Alex a host of broadcast journalism awards, including a Michigan Emmy for Best Documentary, a Murrow Award for Excellence in Social Media, and a Michigan Association of Broadcasters Award for Best Investigative Story.
Today, Alex is the co-anchor on Michigan This Morning on WWTV. Her cancer has been in remission for two years. As with other cancer patients, there is the fear that cancerous cells are hiding and silently lurking and growing. But her faith overshadows any fears.
Faith that in three short years, she will celebrate her five year anniversary of her cancer diagnosis. An anniversary that will also mark her cancer free—and cured.
Cancer, though, does not define her. Her identity—and her framework for life—is based in faith.
“I think when your life gets uprooted, like mine was,” Alex says, “you suddenly see how deep your faith is planted. Having cancer strengthened my faith. I’m more understanding of other people’s struggles and have even learned to appreciate my own — I’m grateful for it.”