Ep. 7: Jess's Fight Story

Today, we welcome Jessica (Jess) Rosenbloom to the Fight Club. Jess is 18-years-old, turning 19 in July. Currently, Jess is studying health sciences at the University of Ottawa. She is also an avid runner and lover of nature and dogs – her dog Bronson is among her many best friends! These are all things that define Jess; however, something ABOUT Jess is that she was diagnosed with a brain tumour nine years ago.
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Jess was always an active kid; she was an avid dancer. Jess lived her life between home, school and the dance studio. So, it was pretty debilitating when Jess suddenly started suffering from headaches at 10-years-old. Within only two weeks of her headaches beginning, they got progressively worse. It got to the point where she couldn't dance, couldn't go to school, and not even over-the-counter medications, like Advil and Tylenol, would make it better.
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One morning, Jess woke up with the worst headache, to the point that throwing up was the only thing that made her feel relief. Instinctively, her mom knew something was wrong. Immediately, her mom took her to the pediatrician, who looked into her eyes and knew something was wrong. He sent them to the ER at Sick Kids, where they would later discover the unimaginable cause of Jess's headaches.
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Eventually, Jess was diagnosed with brainstem glioma – a form of pediatric brain cancer. Jess's treatment was extensive. She had major brain surgeries, which forced her to alter much of her active life. She had to take a leave from dance, which upset Jess. Furthermore, Jess couldn't go to school and do everyday kid things, like hanging out with her friends or attending birthday parties - devastating news for a 10-year-old. 
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Once Jess started chemo, things took a turn for the worse. She felt horrible all the time – she was nauseous, tired, and in pain. On top of this, her blood counts were so low that she barely had an immune system. So, anytime Jess left the house, she took a considerable risk. Jess lost sight of all the things she loved to do.
Jess's chemo treatment initially consisted of 70 rounds of chemo over 70 weeks – one round of chemo, per week, for about a year and a half. However, in round nine, things took an unforeseen turn.
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One morning, Jess woke up and rembers not being able to feel the right side of her body. She recalled at 10-years-old naively thinking, "oh, someone cut off the right side of my right arm while I was sleeping." Obviously, this was not the case. Then, Jess went to her mom and was slurring her speech. She was visibly unwell, and her mom was very concerned. It turns out Jess had had a stroke. Her chemo was not working, and the tumour had grown.
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At this point, Jess had to stop chemo. The only option was surgery to remove part of the tumour. Doctors were initially hesitant to do this, as the tumour was deemed inoperable. But, at this point, this was the only choice.
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The surgery was extremely risky. Doctors expected Jess to come out of the surgery possibly not walking, or talking, or even breathing on her own. However, thankfully, Jess's surgeon removed the majority of the tumour without any significant complications.
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Slowly but surely, Jess recovered from this surgery and eventually was able to return to school with her friends and dance. However, the journey was difficult – both emotionally and physically.
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Eventually, Jess finished high school and went on to pursue her post-secondary degree in health sciences at the University of Ottawa. Since she was young, Jess always knew she wanted to go into the field of healthcare, and her diagnosis only amplified this. She loves science, math, and helping others, so this career path made perfect sense! Specifically, Jess is currently considering a career in nursing and hopes to be able to work with the childhood cancer and broader cancer community.
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Unfortunately, Jess had a sudden and unexpected recurrence of her tumour only a couple of months ago – it started to grow again. This required Jess to defer her second semester of school and return to treatment. And to make matters worse, the treatment Jess needed isn't available in Canada.
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So, Jess packed her bags and headed off to live in Boston, Massachusetts, for two months, where she received six weeks of radiation therapy. Then finally, Jess returned home to Toronto a couple of weeks ago. She is currently settling back into life at home and preparing to head back to school in September!
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This is just a tiny glimpse into Jess's remarkable story. We are so honoured to share Jess's Fight Story with our community. Jess's unwavering strength and resilience is inspiring. We are so lucky to be able to share her story.
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Jess will be participating in Meagan's HUG's annual walk and HUG this upcoming Saturday, May 7th. Jess is a true HERO of Meagan's HUG. The Good Hood Club will also be at the event, located in the Merch Tent, selling a limited edition Meagan's HUG collection. Click here to learn more about the event and how to support Jess, and Meagan's HUG's incredible organization. 
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