“You didn’t beat cancer. You scared the crap out of it” -Matt

I haven’t sat down to write in over a week because per usual my life has been a whirlwind. In the past when there have been gaps in my writing, it has been because I was at a low or didn’t have the energy to articulate how I was truly feeling at the time. This time, I simply haven’t written because I have been too busy having fun and taking good care of myself!

First off I want you to meet someone very special. Her name is Sheila and she is my chemo nurse. Not only is she incredibly skilled at accessing my port and pumping me full of poison Taxol and Cisplatin but she has been there for me as a friend. This picture was taken immediately after learning the good news that my CT scan came back with no evidence of metastatic disease. I am so grateful for this little lady as she played such an integral role in saving my life and keeping me upbeat and positive through some of the most unpleasant parts of this experience.

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Most Recent Medical Update

In my last update I promised to have the final word on if I would continue chemo or move on to aftercare. Last Friday I met with Dr. Robison to discuss my CT scan and her recommendations moving forward. She was very happy to report that my CT scan came back with no evidence of disease. The only slight abnormality that showed up was a spot on my lungs but she assured me that it was nothing to worry about. Her and the radiologist were very certain that it was NOT cancer. It is more than likely evidence of an old infection or something minor. She said that because of my history of cancer (I have a history of cancer now…wow) they will continue to monitor it just in case. Dr. Robison told me that if I didn’t have cancer and this showed up on a scan, they wouldn’t have even mentioned it because it is that minor. If my oncologist and the radiologist aren’t worried, I’m not worried (which is odd because when you go through as much as I have, you worry about everything going on in your body).

Dr. Robison has a lot to consider with my case because 1.) my type of cancer is SO uncommon for a 25 year old and 2.) low grade tumors are also uncommon in general. You know me, I just had to be different. That being said, Dr. Robison is incredibly thorough and never jumps to make a decision too hastily.

Her Thoughts on CHEMO:

I had a blood test after my doctor’s appointment. Whether or not I have one more round of chemo would come down to what my CA 125 is doing. So there are a few possible scenarios:

1.) The CA125 drops into the “safe zone” under 21 = No more chemo

2.) The CA125 drops or elevates but is not below 21 = Probably one more round of chemo as an insurance policy

3.) (This one might blow your mind) The CA125 stays at 42 = No more chemo. I still do not entirely understand why this would constitute no more chemo whereas a drop to say 25 would. I imagine that this could mean that 42 is my personal normal so as long as it is stable then that is okay.

She thinks that more than likely chemo will not be in the cards but as I have said time and time again- there are no guarantees with cancer.

Her Thoughts on Aftercare:

She consulted with the tumor board at Women and Infants. They agreed that Avastin (immunotherapy, 30 minute infusions every 3 weeks for a year) may be a reasonable option. Dr. Robison also consulted with oncologists at the Dana Farber Institute and several other reputable institutions to see what other doctors are doing. There is strong evidence to suggest that another great option would be a drug called Letrazol. This is a pill that I would take every day for the rest of my life. I’m actually pulling for this option. Never did I think that at 25 being “on the pill” would go from birth control to cancer control.

I’m meeting with Dr. Robison and my parents on Friday at Women and Infants to hear her final decision. We shall see what my near future holds in a few days.

Time to get busy living…

So what have I been doing in the last week to celebrate my recent news? Smiling a lot more, sleeping a lot better, and savoring every second with my loved ones. Get ready for lots of pictures of my friends who are really, really,  ridiculously good looking 😉 (this is for you Jacque since you only look at the pictures anyway)

The night I announced my clean CT scan involved mexican food at Tortilla Flats, celebratory chocolate lava cake, dancing at Viva, and of course a champagne toast:

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This past weekend was B-E-A-UUUUUUTIFUL. We made the most of the weekend by spending as much time outside as possible. We had a lovely visit to Bristol and Portsmouth:

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IMG_2070 <–This is Stacey and she’s pretty darn amazing. She even made us matching celebratory t-shirts:

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We ended the weekend in the most festive way possible- celebrating Cinco de Mayo!

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All in all things are pretty good right now. Not to sound over the top and dramatic but when you have a brush with death you try to suck the most you can out of every opportunity to be happy. I’m trying my best to do that  and continue to surround myself with people that bring absolute joy to my life and let go of people and things that no longer serve me. I am also trying to say yes to opportunities as they arise and not be so afraid to ask for what I need.For example, because I have had to use so much sick time at work I felt really guilty about taking vacation days. I mean, I’m entitled to use them. I earned them. For some reason I had a ton of anxiety about asking for a little time off here and there go actually go on vacation. When I finally built up the courage to ask, my supervisor was more than happy to grant me the time off. In fact, she said I deserved it and did not even hesitate when saying yes. The pre-cancer Jess may not have asked but post-cancer Jess is building a little more courage and getting out of her own head a little more (ok, maybe not all the time but I’m getting there!). So now I have two great vacations to look forward to:

-July 3rd-8th: San Jose, California to see my big brother!!! I also have some west coast supporters that I cannot wait to meet.

-August 1st-5th: Minocqua, Wisconsin for my study abroad lake house reunion. Northern and Southern Hemispheres unite 🙂

This is going to be the best summer ever. Not taking a second of it for granted.

Thank you everyone for the continued support. It means the world to me.

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“I asked her where she wanna be when she 25. She turned around and looked at me and she said ‘alive‘”

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5 thoughts on ““You didn’t beat cancer. You scared the crap out of it” -Matt

  1. I don’t know you Jess and you don’t know me, but I follow your updates because I care and keep you in my prayers. Your mom and I were playmates many , many years ago, and were able to reconnect thru FB. I seem to know thru your post that you are a strong, loving person. May God get you thru this and that you may live a long happy life. Give my regards to your mom (Mindy). God bless you. Grace Verderame Briggs

  2. You go girl. Your new life sounds like it is going to be great, you deserve it and so do your parents.

  3. You’re one inspiring young lady, Jessy. Love the pictures (and the beer in your hand!). So glad you’ll be heading out to San Jose to hang with “the Adam”. There will be stories to tell from that week….probably not too many appropriate FB pics though. Enjoy your well deserved vacations this summer. We’ll keep you in our prayers, as always. BTW- love the grey T-shirt!!!

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