Jessie’s journey with cancer began in April 2014. That was when my family was hit with the news that she had Non-Hodgkin’s Primary Mediastinal Large B-cell lymphoma and there was a 5.9cm mass above her heart. The doctors told her she needed to start chemo to cure her. The standard protocol of a hospital stay of six days, where she would receive a chemo IV 24 hours a day for five straight days, come back in 3 weeks, and repeat for five more treatments. Prior to starting treatment, she traveled down to Mexico and stayed at the Gerson Clinic for two weeks. This therapy built up her body to regenerate it on a cellular level, but that particular therapy wasn't enough. She was ready to fight and began treatment at Stanford and then transferred to UCSF. The chemo treatment was brutal and so hard on her, but she handled it, battled it and in February 2015, we celebrated a major victory; she was getting her final round of chemo and looking forward to living her life!
Jessie was able to return to work, started feeling normal again and living her life the way it was intended. In September 2016, we received the wonderful news that Jessie and her husband, Steve, were expecting their first child, which was a miracle in itself. Life was falling into place and we continued to have happy times ahead. But things quickly took a turn, and in January 2017 it was all about to change. Jessie started having all too familiar pains in her chest and came down with a cough, which was also too familiar. After running tests and then a biopsy, our worst nightmare came true, the cancer was back, she now has a 12cm mass above her heart and she’s pregnant.
To make matters even worse, Jessie learned she will not be able to carry her baby boy, Takoda, to full term because she needed to get started on treatment right away. She started mentally preparing for what was to come and enjoyed every minute of being pregnant, but all the while getting ready for her next challenge – to fight cancer yet again.
On Wednesday, April 26, Takoda Vicente Garrido was born one month early and has been a ray of light to her and Steve and our entire family. He really is our precious miracle baby!
Two days later after giving birth, on Friday, April 28, Jessie gave Takoda a kiss, said goodbye and checked into UCSF to start her first round of chemo. Every round of chemo my sister went through was awful, but this first round of treatment (for a second time) was tough – she was struck with an extremely high fever shortly after, which turned into a pneumonia and as a result hospitalized her. To say it was a scary time for us would be an understatement. But Jessie fought the pneumonia like the warrior she is. We then knew this was bigger than any of us and we worked with Jessie and her doctors to transfer her care to UC Irvine so she could move in with our mom and be close to family and everyone could help her and Takoda while she was under treatment. Because even when she was out of the hospital and back at our mom’s house the nightmare didn’t stop. It is all hands on deck to help. As her sister, it’s been one of the hardest things to watch and be a part of. If you have had a baby, or experienced child birth, you can appreciate that this is the time to be enjoying your sweet baby, not battling for your life for a second time.
On Tuesday, June 27 she had her first PET scan since starting treatment again to see how her body was responding after two rounds of chemo. The results came in and they weren’t good. We learned that Jessie’s body did not respond to the treatment and that chemo was no longer an option for her. Her oncologist suggested an immunotherapy treatment, which her insurance company denied. Her oncologist is currently trying to find other ways of treating her.
Time is of the essence and we need to move quickly and pursue alternative options. We can’t wait and we need to take matters into our own hands. Now that insurance has denied her for more treatment, she’s not receiving anything at the moment and is in a great deal of discomfort, pain and her fever is back with vengeance. To explore ALL her options, she is working closely with a neurologist who belives in finding the root cause of the disease and not just treat the symtoms. His therapies are not covered by her insurance. Since she started working with this neurologist her diet has had to change drastically, nothing like I’ve ever seen before. I’m watching my sister fight for her life at almost 33 years old. I know life isn’t fair, but this seems to be taking it to the extreme.
If you’ve had the honor to be in the presence of Jessie, you would know that she is a beaming light and has the biggest heart. She’ll do anything for anyone and now she’s at a point in her life where she needs the help of everyone around her. Since insurance is not an option to help her with traditional, Western medicine, the health supplements, strict diet and care from her neurologist is all up to Jessie and Steve to cover financially. It’s to the point where they need extra help from everyone and anyone. Steve works full-time, Jessie is now unable to work and needs to stay focused on not only her body but taking care of Takoda who is almost three months old. If you can donate we would be forever grateful – no amount is too small and anything helps. If you can’t help financially, all I ask is that you send all the positive vibes, thoughts, prayers and whatever else you believe in along Jessie’s way. If you would like to send her a card with well wishes and support, please send me a message and I can give you her mailing address.
Heartfelt thanks from Steve, Jessie, Takoda and the Garrido/Salas Families.
- Kelly Richardson
- Jorge Dorado
- Jesse Alvarado
- Holly, Justin and Ojaio Reynolds
- Yvonne&Ritch Haselden
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