Just a few months ago Jessie was a happy, healthy 10 year old girl. An honors student who loved swimming, playing volleyball, riding her bike, making jewelry, playing the flute, spending time with her friends and family, and going to movies at the drive-in theater.
Over Memorial Day weekend, Jessie started having back pain that continued into the week. Two doctors visits were inconclusive, but nothing serious was suspected. They thought it was either a urinary tract infection or possibly a kidney stone. A little over a week after her symptoms began, Jessie was in extreme pain and her parents took her to the emergency room. She was sent home with some pain medicine to go with her antibiotics and was scheduled for an ultrasound the next day, but that seemed like more of a formality.
Unfortunately, it was not a formality. The ultrasound revealed a mass on her left kidney and 24 hours later Jessie was at a children's hospital preparing for exploratory surgery and biopsy. This surgery revealed that the tumor was unusual and wrapped around lymph nodes which would make removal dangerous. Testing of the tissue from the biopsy revealed that she had a variance of a Wilms tumor, a rare form of kidney cancer in children. She would require 6 weeks of chemotherapy, then surgery to remove her kidney and surrounding tumor, followed by 24 additional weeks of chemotherapy in addition to radiation treatments to get any remaining cancer cells.
Jessie started chemotherapy immediately and had successful surgery on July 30th to remove her kidney, the tumor, and lymph nodes. She re-starts her chemotherapy today. The chemotherapy has caused her hair to fall out and she has required red blood cells because her levels were too low. Jessie got some new hats, a synthetic wig, and was recently measured for her real wig to deal with the hair loss.
All of this would be a lot for anyone to handle, especially a 10 year old girl, but Jessie has shown that bravery and strength are not determined by age or size. She has been strong since day one, often more concerned about how her cancer is effecting her family than herself. She even makes jokes about going bald.
Jessie's prognosis is good, but she still faces a daunting 8 months of treatment. She won't be able to go back to school with her 6th grade class this fall or do many of the things she loved to do. She tires easily and her immune system will be weakened from her treatments. Yet, based on how Jessie has handled the first part of her battle, I have no doubt that she will not let this get her down and will come out of this stronger than before!