She was the little girl who loved caring for the earth and all things green. When other girls raved about the latest boy band, she listened to the Beatles on vinyl albums with her father. And those things, coupled with her penchant for anything tie-dyed, led to Jacqulyn Nichole Estrada’s parents calling her their little hippie.
At 16, the girl that others called a free spirit, was diagnosed with cancer. After a year of hospital stays, surgery and chemotherapy treatments, she became taken with the dedication of her nurses and decided nursing was the career path for her.
Estrada died June 3. She was 27.
Her mother, Catharine Thieme, said her daughter chose pediatric oncology because of her past experiences.
“She knew that was what she wanted to do,” Thieme, 50, said. “She felt she could help someone else, she loved taking care of the kids.”
Family members said Estrada loved playing softball. She was introduced to the sport starting with T-ball at the age of 6. Her mother tried to steer her toward dancing, but the popular game won out. Estrada played outfield on the South San High varsity softball team until she was diagnosed with cancer.
“The girl had an arm,” Thieme said, “she loved the game.”
In 2007, Estrada graduated from South San Antonio High School. She attended the University of Texas at Austin and graduated with a Bachelor of Science nursing degree in 2011.
She worked as a pediatric oncology nurse at Dell Children’s Hospital in Austin until she moved back to San Antonio, where she worked as a pediatric home health nurse.
She loved animals, her mother said. She fell in love with a mixed-breed dog, which she named “Drey,” that she had rescued from shelter. Her other passions were reading mysteries and history stories, and learning new facts about life and the world. In recent months, she had planned to start studying for her master’s degree and become a physician’s assistant.
While going through her daughter’s paperwork, Thieme said they found adoption documents she had planned to surprise her father, Kenneth Thieme, with as a Father’s Day gift. Thieme said her husband, the man who raised Estrada since she was 4, said the papers were very nice, but it was always understood that she was his daughter.
Jacqulyn Nichole Estrada
Born: Aug. 17, 1989, San Antonio
Died: June 3, 2017, San Antonio
Survived by: Parents Kenneth and Catharine Thieme; brothers David Estrada and sister-in-law Alma, and John Estrada; grandmothers Carolina Arispe and Betty Thieme; uncles, David Arispe and aunt Monica, Mark Arispe and Keith Thieme; aunt Cynthia Arispe; and numerous cousins.
Services: Visitation from 5 to 9 p.m. Friday at Mission Park Funeral Chapels South, 1700 Southeast Military Dr. The Holy Rosary will be recited at 7 p.m.
Her mother said that no matter what Estrada was going through, she never lost her spirit for life nor passion for old music that transported her to another era and stirred her soul.