Help Jess Beat Brain Cancer
Jess has always been creative and driven. Being seven years older than me, she was often tasked with babysitting us. Instead of resenting this responsibility, she relished it and cast us in several “independent” films. Many of our friends and family have viewed her remake of Cinderella and her casting of her cat as the fairy godmother was lauded as “groundbreaking”.
From her director days, Jess has only become more passionate and visionary. She pursued her love of archaeology to Guatemala, which ultimately led her to start her business Stela 9. Jess works with local Guatemala artisans to produce stunning bags, clothing, and so much more as the company grows. Stela 9 exemplifies the qualities I have always admired in Jess. They both exude beauty, creativity, and fairness.
Jess was in a near fatal car accident a few years ago. She bounced back stronger than ever and we all assumed that was the one bad thing in her life. Reality never really works like that though, does it? A few weeks ago, Jess had a grand mal seizure at 6:30 am and her boyfriend found her facedown on her bedroom floor. After a few hospital visits, we found out that Jess has a large tumor in her brain (on the left frontal lobe) that needs to be removed as soon possible. Jess is now in Portland and her surgery is scheduled for next Thursday. We all know Jess is going to beat this thing, whatever it is.
This is where you come in. Jess is a small business owner. By working with artisan groups in Guatemala she directly contributes to the sustainability of the community. However, keeping all this up along with, surgery, and paying for medical expenses, is difficult even for a woman like Jess. This unexpected event has created a financial strain on her. So, we’ve made this
GoFundMe to ask for your help.
- Erin Bercovici
Last week was my LAST round of the 12 month protocol of chemo. I can't believe it's already been a year! I'm so happy that it went by fairly quickly and smoothly, and obviously, I'm really looking forward to not having to take it anymore.
I am still on my anti-seizure medication for now, Keppra. Because there are side effects like tiredness, weakness, depression and mood changes I would prefer to not be on it if possible. After meeting with my neurologist, Dr. Evans, we've decided to do an EEG next January to see if I can go off of it and in the meantime we've reduce my dosage.
My appointment with my oncologist, Dr. Lufkin went pretty much how I thought it would go. To sum it up, the tumor looks the same, which is a good thing. We need to continue to monitor it at least twice a year with an MRI to make sure there's no growth. The next six months will be interesting because it'll be the first time since surgery that I won't be taking any form of medication to control this. That being said, the radiation and chemo are meant to be effective for about 10 years.
As I've mentioned to some of you before, I will probably always have brain cancer. This is not a death sentence, and the possibility of having a long and healthy life is very high. I just have to monitor myself closely and be more in-tune with my body. This means being very cautious of my immune system, stress levels and the foods I eat.
xo - Jess
It’s been almost exactly two months since my last update and so much has happened:
• I was on a podcast! My first ever and was fortunate to be interviewed by the lovely Kestrel Jenkins about my company’s platform.
To listen click here - http://awearworld.com/podcast/2016/10/28/s01-episode-34-stela-9-cultural-preservation
• I hiked one of the highest Volcanoes in Central America with an elevation of 13,045 feet. My dog, Gruner joined Jacki and me as we spent two days on one of the most incredible adventures of my life. We camped above the clouds and had a perfect view of the neighboring Volcan Fuego all night as it put on a show for us.
• I’ve been invited to speak at Soul Seed Gathering in February 2017 at Lake Atitlan in February of 2017.
• My hair is growing back (insert emoji of flamenco dancer). All of it!!! We weren’t sure this would happen so it’s really, (excuse my French), f*cking exciting to know that I won’t have to be restricted to wearing a wig for the rest of my life. I also have started to go out without a hat on or wig as I’m becoming more and more comfortable with my new look. That being said, I discovered last night that my dad and I currently have the same haircut so I need to work on that minor hiccup.
• Even though I’m on chemo this week, I’m really starting to get used to it and have learned how to avoid nausea with my diet.
• And the BEST NEWS, we got my MRI results back yesterday and the tumor has reduced in size!!! This also means that I don’t have to have another MRI until June because I’m doing so well. I’m also fortunate enough to get to spend the holidays in Oregon with my family. Which as a few of you may know means lots of board games, matching pajamas and watching my Grandpa’s movie, The Bishop’s Wife.
Thank you to everyone for your support and love over the past year. It’s been humbling to receive so much from all of you. I can’t wait to see what 2017 holds for all of us.
xoxo - Jess
We've been experiencing a range of emotions today because, even though she got the thumbs up to go home, she still has a long road ahead; the tumor is showing up on her MRI scans and she's going to be taking oral chemotherapy for a year. And of course, it's always hard to see your baby leave home, especially if they're traveling to another country (even if she is 31 years old). We've gotten used to her being close to us.
Since we've discovered that Jess has cancer, Adam, Jess and I have taken it upon ourselves to find out as much as possible about this horrible disease. We've pestered her doctors with a flurry of questions, communicated with other cancer patients, done online research and read books.
The book that I finished reading today is titled Radical Remission: Surviving Cancer Against All Odds. After spending 10 years traveling the world doing research on cancer survivors who experienced radical remission, the author has discovered that there are 9 key factors that aid in healing cancer: radically changing your diet, taking control of your health, following your intuition, using herbs and supplements, releasing suppressed emotions, increasing positive emotions, embracing social support, deepening your spiritual connection, and having strong reasons for living.
It seems fitting that I finished this book today because Jess implemented all 9 of these factors into her life before I read the book. This just reaffirmed that she's on the right track to a cancer-free, healthy life.
This is fantastic news Jess. The fact that you climbed a mountain has got to be a clear indicator that you're strong and healthy, tumor be damned!!! May you continue on this path to a cancer-free life in 2017. Have a wonderful Christmas; we watched The Bishop's Wife last week - we always think of your family & cheer when your Grandpa's name comes on the credits :^)
so glad you read this update. You are always on my mind. Also, I don't think you look that much like your dad, however, Alex looks a lot like you. Tons of love to all of you crazy Bercovici's.
Hello Jess, Just wanted to let you know that I am monitoring y our progress with concern and love for your health issues. I wanted to contact and ask for an update and to ask you if you have ever heard of a doctor in Huston, Tx named Dr. Stanislav Burzinski. He is a polish doctor that graduated 1st in his medical class. He is a doctor that has found a cure for all brain cancers but the government is trying to put him out of business and manufacturing of the drug.They have been battling the government specifically the FDA to let him cure people but they will not let him do what he does best. The Texas Medical Board is a huge problem for him as they keep taking him to court and he wins but they won't give up. He has cured hundreds of brain cancer and I urge you to look him up on the internet and read about his struggle against the government burocracy and read up on the patients he cured with his invention drug antineoplastons. This is not a joke he has a drug that cures the brain and brain stem cancer in children and adults. Please look into it and see if you could participate. Forget the Chemo and Radiation it will fry your brain, destroy your hearing and eyes and possiblably you. talk to Burzinski it will be worth your time.
Prayers to all!!! The only help I can offer is to share your story as much as I can on facebook. And trying to post awareness throughout the internet to spread the word on your need of help. Wishing you the very best in reaching your goal. ~God Bless
Hi Jess, hope you are doing OK - you look beautiful despite the hair situation. Here's a true story: one of my former students, a brilliant, very attractive, decorated 4x Iraq/Afghanistan veteran, Columbia and Harvard grad, was looking to meet someone on one of the social websites. He saw a lovely photo of a woman, completely bald. She had survived lymphoma and posted photos from during her chemo. He thought she was very brave, and might be able to understand his war experience. They are now happily married with an adorable daughter. Best wishes, Linda
Hey Jess, You don't know me, but I've been following your story on GoFundMe for awhile now. I just want you to know that I think you're one of the bravest people I (don't haha) know. Keep fighting and remember that so many people want to see you succeed. You are a hero to so many - and an inspiration for me. Praying for you.
Sending mucho amor! I know it's not easy. Your strength, honesty, and determination to move forward are inspiring. Sometimes forward progress isn't at the speed we are expecting or used to. I know it doesn't "fix it" but you sharing your experience helps me not feel as alone. Thank you for sharing and keep kicking ass ♥