At 20 years old, Jessica – our daughter, sister, aunt and friend – was diagnosed with a tremendously rare and highly aggressive form of germ cell ovarian cancer. The malignancy was found by chance, when Jessica had surgery to remove what were thought to be benign ovarian cysts. In that moment, no words could express the fear we all felt of the indefinite road ahead.
However, in the face of her shocking diagnosis, Jess has maintained a pure and genuine optimism. To devote her life to making the necessary changes, Jess has put many of her ambitions on hold, including completion of the final semester of her undergraduate pre-chiropractic program. And as she begins her fight, we ask for your help.
In Jessica's words: “December 19th is a very monumental day for me. As a term that is used so broadly to describe many different circumstances had become prevalent in my own life for the first time: ‘Cancer.’ I had experienced many health issues in the past few years and was working on finally feeling whole again. Although I thought that after the surgery on December 12th to remove the “benign” ovarian cysts, that the most invasive part of my journey to restore my health was over -- it had just truly begun.
However, something I NEVER thought I would say is: although this is the scariest adventure I have ever encountered, being diagnosed with ovarian cancer may end up being the best thing that has ever happened to me. It has forced me to take a step back to look at what I truly cherish in life and make some major health, lifestyle, and relationship changes. When I reflect on myself as a person, I have realized that I am a person who needs other people - especially now. But I also am a person who loves lifting others in return and sharing my experiences with them. I give a lot of credit to my family, as they have shown me that moments of physical or mental weakness are not associated with humiliation. They have taught me that what makes strong people so courageous is not necessarily a lack of tears or putting on a tough face, but allowing yourself to lean on others for strength when necessary, and returning the favor, which is exactly what I plan to do. My focus on this journey is not on my sickness, but on my ability to use this experience to become the healthiest version of myself and to be an advocate for my own body. I long to grow in mind, body, and spirit. My emphasis is to use my energy to change the fear associated with cancer into a higher faith. And to use that faith to strengthen my body, my family and my genuine relationships with others – because that is exactly what I need to fight this
I trust that it is up to us to determine what meaning the pain in our lives will have, and who we will become as a result of it. I personally believe that the only concrete thing we can cling to in this world, other than our faith, is our genuine relationships with people. I have learned that prayer is about asking God to align you with His will, rather than asking Him to be aligned with yours. He has aligned me with His will and I cannot wait to share this beautiful journey He is leading me on with all of you.
Thank you to all who are graciously joining me on this journey. You are sincerely wonderful.”
As a family, we spent most of the holiday season attending several gynecologic oncology appointments at University hospitals, local hospitals, and Mayo Clinic. Outside of appointments we spent our time reading, researching, and reaching out to a variety of medical professionals-educating ourselves.
Unfortunately, due to the rarity of Jess’s diagnosis and her young age, there is not a strict standard of care for her cancer type that oncologists can reach complete agreement on. The only consensus is that all of Jessica’s scans, tests, and blood work have come back with no evidence of disease left in her body. However, due to the aggressiveness of her cancer type, oncologists are not comfortable monitoring Jessica or delaying intensive treatment. They suggest potential removal of her ovary, fallopian tube, and abdominal lymph nodes followed by BEP chemotherapy; one of the harshest chemo regimens available, which can be vastly detrimental to quality of life at her age. Possible side effects of these treatments include infertility, menopause at age 20, loss of natural hormone function, pulmonary damage, kidney damage, liver damage, nerve damage, and secondary cancers such as A.M.L. and A.L.L. leukemia’s. The last thing Jessica wants is for quality of life to be deteriorated with surgery and treatments to remove a disease that is only possibly still left in her body, but she also knows that something has to be done in order to fight and prevent this rare and aggressive cancer from ever coming back.
While it has been a complicated and at times frightening path, Jessica has expressed her inner peace and deepened faith with all of us. She describes this diagnosis using an analogy she heard from her doctor in Arizona “it is like a tap on the shoulder from God, saying that some changes needs to be made. Something isn’t allowing the body to do its job properly the way it was designed to.”
After weeks of research, Jessica has decided that integrative cancer treatment is best for her. Next week she will begin treatment at An Oasis of Healing in Mesa, Arizona working with a doctor there who specializes in gynecologic and pediatric oncology. He is willing to take on her case, and is very optimistic about her outcome. Oasis will treat Jessica for roughly six weeks with low dosages of the recommended BEP chemotherapy administered with Insulin Potentiated Therapy, which allows the chemotherapy to target specific cancer cells, while preserving the body’s healthy cells. Jess will also receive therapies that focus on building immunity, preserving quality of life, and ensure continued healing. After six weeks of impatient care she will hopefully return to Omaha to continue the treatment plan in order to alleviate some of the finical expense. She will then return to Mesa, Arizona once a month for low dose chemotherapy and monitoring until treatment is finished. They will also develop a plan for her to implement as part of a lifestyle to assure that she continues the healing process. The philosophy of this cancer center is exactly what she has been searching for: finding the imbalances in the body and removing the burden from the body in order for it to function optimally, warding off any cancer on its own.
The cost of treatment, travel and follow up care will be substantial due to the fact that most of the care will not be covered by insurance. Please consider joining this journey with any support you can offer. Whether your support be financial, emotional or spiritual we find peace and comfort in all your love and encouragement!
With all our love,
Join us on Jessica's Journey at: https://joiningjessicasjourney2015.wordpress.com