“I was not expecting this at all. It feels amazing that my mom's home.”

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FORT WALTON BEACH — Jessica Young embraced her son for the first time in months Tuesday night during a surprise reunion after the Style Marchers band practice at Choctawhatchee High School.

The reunion — arranged through a private group on Facebook — was in celebration of Jessica’s successful cancer treatment after a diagnosis of acute myeloid leukemia, an aggressive blood cancer that also affects the bone marrow.

“I was not expecting this at all,” said Jessica’s 15-year-old son Zach, a sophomore who plays the alto saxophone in the band. “It feels amazing that my mom’s home.”  

Practice began as scheduled at 8 p.m. in the parking lot behind the football field. Then about a half hour later, the band mates sat together to listen to their director, Brad Parks, speak. 

“They thought she was going to be gone and the next day she went to Texas and there was a great hospital with great doctors and they started treating her because the cancer was really, really aggressive,” Parks said of Jessica as her son sat unaware of her presence.  

“Zach, please stand up and just look back there," he said. "Go give your mom a hug.”

Parks pointed in the direction of Jessica, who bounded out from behind the Style Marchers truck wearing a pink crocheted hat. 

Zach and his mom embraced as those around them held back tears and photographers snapped pictures. Her daughter joined in for a group hug.

But Jessica didn't cry. After embracing her son, she danced as the band played a marching song.

"Amazing," she said when asked about seeing her son again. "Absolutely amazing."

Later, the 38-year-old Fort Walton Beach woman said her cancer is in remission thanks to the chemotherapy and a bone marrow donation from a 19-year-old man. The bone marrow transplant replaced her own marrow, changing her blood type and leaving her cancer-free. 

“I was supposed to be coming home in September, and I got cleared early to come home early so I told my daughter, but I didn’t tell my son to keep it a surprise for him,” Jessica said.