This campaign has been organized by the Larry Mair family who are asking you to please help Jessica and her family as they continue to face medical and travel expenses in living with Jessica’s chronic cancer. Your donation will go directly to Jessica and her family.
This is Jessica’s second separate cancer diagnoses in her life. Back in 1999, when she was 15 years old, Jessica was diagnosed with a clear cell sarcoma tumor in her left leg. She underwent surgery to remove the mass. She then underwent 15 rounds of chemotherapy. The side effects were very severe, and Jessica was only able to attend 36 days of her sophomore year of school. After chemotherapy was over, she bounced back and returned to the normal activities of a teenager.
Due to Jessica’s experiences as a patient and a cancer survivor, she decided to pursue the field of nursing. She started out as an LPN and then became an RN. At age 25, she married her husband Eric, in Alexandria, MN. The following year they were blessed with a pregnancy, after being told there was only a small chance Jessica would be able to conceive on her own. In April 2012, their son Lincoln was born. A few months later, in July, they moved to Winnebago, MN for Eric’s job as a special education teacher for Southern Plains Education Cooperative. In August 2013, the couple was blessed with a second child, their daughter McKinley. In 2015, Jessica graduated with a Doctorate degree in Nursing, Family Nurse Practitioner, and started working at Mayo Clinic Health System in Fairmont as a Nurse Practitioner in Family Medicine.
During late 2015 and throughout 2016, Jessica started to experience fatigue and other physical symptoms, including occasional abdominal pain. She was living a very active lifestyle at the time and explained away the symptoms for months. Then, during Thanksgiving weekend in 2016, Jessica’s life took another unexpected turn. On the Sunday after Thanksgiving, Jessica started to experience abdominal pain and vomiting, which increased through the night. Thinking it might be appendicitis, they packed up the family and headed for the ER. A CT scan revealed a large mass in Jessica’s pelvis along with a bowel obstruction. Suspecting possible cancer stemming from the ovaries, her doctors decided to transport Jessica by ambulance to Rochester for further care. Another CT scan thankfully showed that no cancer had spread to Jessica’s lungs. However, her CA-125 level, which is a blood test that assesses the presence of ovarian cancer, was significantly elevated at 1704. The normal level for this with a person with no cancer is less than 35. At that point, it was determined that the mass was most likely cancer and they needed to act quickly to assess the situation. Jessica underwent surgery the next day, where her doctor learned that the cancer was very advanced. Jessica’s doctor described the cancer as a sticky mass that was adhered throughout her abdomen to her small intestine, large intestine, bladder, liver, diaphragm, and stomach. It was too advanced to attempt to have a successful surgery that day to remove the cancer, so instead the doctor took several biopsies, removed almost three liters f fluid, and placed an ileostomy to divert Jessica’s large intestine due to the obstruction that she had.
Following the surgery, and about a week in the hospital, they found out that Jessica’s cancer was a stage IIIb low-grade serous ovarian cancer. Although low-grade may sound like a great option, in this case it is not. Low-grade ovarian cancers are slow-growing, however, there currently are no effective chemotherapy treatments, rather they are treated with surgical procedures and managed with anti-estrogen medications. Jessica started chemotherapy a week later, receiving very strong chemo three weeks apart. Unfortunately, the chemo did not shrink the tumor, but it did prevent it from growing any larger. On February 2, 2017, Jessica underwent a considerable surgery to remove the tumor in her pelvis. The surgery lasted nine hours, and the tumor ended up weighing over 4 pounds. In addition, Jessica had a total hysterectomy, appendectomy, spleenectomy, and parts of her small intestine, large intestine, sigmoid colon, bladder, stomach, and diaphragm were removed. Jessica was in ICU for two days and received multiple blood transfusions. 98% of the tumor was removed, and 2% of the cancer remains near Jessica’s liver and small intestine. Jessica has had some complications since the surgery, including weight loss, dehydration, an open wound that did not heal on her incision, and issues with her ostomy. Follow up required travel once or more weekly for treatment with her ostomy nurses.
In April, Jessica attempted to return to work on a very part-time basis, but immediately started developing abdominal pain from her ostomy. More trips to the ER and a CT scan revealed another bowel obstruction. At that point, the doctors determined to perform a reverse ileostomy and re-connect Jessica’s bowels. The surgery went well, and it has allowed Jessica the ability to eat, drink and sleep more normally. In June, Jessica had another CT scan to determine the stability of her remaining tumor, which showed no growth. Jessica now has returned to work again on a part-time basis.
Jessica’s cancer has changed both her and her family’s lives in many ways. Jessica has not been able to play with her kids and care for them as she once was able to do. She continually has had to rely on others to help fill in when she is unable. Jessica and her family will forever have to deal with Jessica’s chronic, life-threatening disease.
Those who know Jessica know that she is an inspiring spirit who adores her husband and kids, and loves to be active and experience life to the fullest. This is your opportunity to show your support for Jessica and her family and make a difference. Please consider a donation today. Thank you!
- Erin Howk Bennett
- Kaye Tav
- Karen Irons
- Mandy Fletcher
- Nancy Morales
Organizer and beneficiary
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