12 Sep Positively Jessica
I want to tell you a little about myself and what my life was like “B.C.”.… that’s Before Cancer, as I like to say. I was a typical kid. At the beginning of the school year I got the teacher I really wanted. I had long beautiful hair. AND I like hanging out with my friends. I really enjoyed school and I was a straight “A” student. My passion is to dance; I think it is great way to express yourself. You know, I had just made a competitive dance team at my dance studio right before I found out I had cancer.
I was diagnosed with a type of brain cancer called germinoma. It was located in the supra cellular region of my brain. The cancer spread and it was on my pituitary, hypothalamus, and optic nerves. The brain cancer messed up other things in my body like hormones, adrenal insuffiency, diabetes insipidus, and it significantly impacted the vision of my right eye. So that means everyone over here (point to the right), I can’t see you.
To fight my cancer there were a few things I had to do. I had to have two surgeries. The first one was a brain surgery to biopsy my tumor. I thought my brain surgery was really cool. I am sure my parents didn’t think so.
My neurosurgeon did my surgery by going up through my nose, through my skull and into my brain. Cool right. To this day, I always wonder if I sneezed really hard if I would “blow my brains out”.
The second surgery was to install a G-tube and my port. So now it looks like I have two belly buttons – or as I sometimes like to say my shark bite from my beach vacation. I had many months of chemotherapy of two different chemo drugs and 24 rounds of radiation. I dropped down to an alarming weight of 46 pounds.
After my treatment ended, I was given an MRI and the results looked really good. So my doctor said I could have the summer off. I didn’t have to go back to the hospital for 6 whole weeks. I was able to finish up 5th grade over the summer and prepare to start 6th grade with my friends. Plus I get to enjoy not feeling sick all the time.
Six weeks later, I was given another MRI.
When the results came back the doctor showed us there was a new abnormality in another area of my brain. Possibly an infarction.
I am sure my mom probably heard it right. But what I heard was In-Fart… In-Fart. Now, did he just say I had a Brain Fart? Yup…I had a fart in my brain. A brain fart!
But not to worry. My biggest challenge is because of my fun-sized height, restaurants still hand me the kiddie menu and serve my drink in a… sippy cup.
Let me tell you about My2ndAct…
I have performed in several ballets and dance competitions. I just started my 8th grade year at school and continuing my straight “A” status in the accelerated program. I was invited by Duke University to take the ACT college exam as a 7th grader. Take that brain cancer!
I am passionately committed to children fighting cancer. I want to use my experiences to educate and inspire others. I work with many organizations to further the fight against pediatric cancer. I have given many speeches around the country. Most recently for a huge group of Pediatric Doctors in Chicago. Now THAT was cool! I am the 2015-2016 Champion Ambassador of Tennessee for the Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals which gave me the opportunity to bring our message to Washington DC.
I have also worked with many cool celebrities such as Adam Sandler, Kevin James, Mark Cuban, and Marie Osmond to name just a few. You may have seen Jack Black and I on an Amazon fundraising campaign for the Children’s Hospitals.
I have some things I intend to do in My 2nd Act. Let me share them with you.
- Kids are always happy for no real reason, so I will never stop being a kid.
- Sometimes I will eat dessert first.
- I will buy myself a helium balloon; YOU KNOW WHY.
- I will continue to dot all my “I’s” with smiley faces.
- I will blow the wrappers off my straws.
- If the shoe fits, I will buy them EVERY color. That’s the woman in me.
- And whenever possible, I am going to stop once in a while for recess…. FOR THE REST OF MY LIFE.