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Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Happy Birthday Jessie!

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!

No child should have to spend her 11th birthday starting a new regimen of chemotherapy, but since that is the reality for Jessie, please join me in wishing a very happy birthday to a very special girl!

8 comments:

  1. Happy Birthday, Jessie!

    I'm sorry the day is spent with chemotherapy, but I hope it's still a very good day. Wishing you all the best for a great 11th year!

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  2. Happy Birthday Jessie! Wow, what an inspiration you are. It's amazing how strong and graceful you are, especially for such a young lady. I'm impressed! Here's wishing that this birthday heralds in your best year yet - sending love and hugs from Denver!

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  3. Happy birthday! You hang in there and keep that smile on your face. I am glad to hear you making jokes about being bald. I was bald too though my 6th grade daughter at the time did ask me to cover up at school I went a lot of places bald too. I am a breast cancer survivor in California. I hope this year is an amazing one for you with lots of happiness and success I your treatment. Make sure you find things to laugh at and hug your family a lot it's good for all of you!

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  4. Happy birthday! You hang in there and keep that smile on your face. I am glad to hear you making jokes about being bald. I was bald too though my 6th grade daughter at the time did ask me to cover up at school I went a lot of places bald too. I am a breast cancer survivor in California. I hope this year is an amazing one for you with lots of happiness and success I your treatment. Make sure you find things to laugh at and hug your family a lot it's good for all of you!

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  5. Happy birthday Jesse! I used to work with your knucklehead father. He's good people, so I know you're good people, too. If you're like him, you're also a strong-willed little bada$$ who will come through this whole thing tougher than ever. I really hope you have a happy birthday, today. Keep your chin up and stay positive. Even though I don't know you personally, I know there is a big group of people pulling for you who are very proud of you...

    -Patrick O'Connor

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  6. Happy birthday Jessie! What an inspiration you are! Keep your positive attitude and stay strong... You're incredible!

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  7. Happy belated birthday Jessie! Spending your birthday in the hospital is never fun but from all the pictures your proud father posted, it looks like you made the best of it. Your smiling face through it all is simply amazing.

    There are so many people thinking of you each and every day and we can't wait to wish you happy birthday next year when you will be home and healthy.

    We are all so proud of you.

    -Jassen

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  8. Hi,

    I have a quick question about your blog, would you mind emailing me when you get a chance?

    Thanks,

    Cameron

    cameronvsj(at)gmail.com

    ReplyDelete