Jessie’s Cancer Story (abridged)

I didn’t know I’d be a patient at the Kauai Infusion Center when I interviewed the team for a news article in February 2019. Back then, I was working as a reporter for The Garden Island Newspaper. It’s one of several small papers I’ve worked with as a reporter and editor – and I was on assignment.

When you write for a community newspaper, you write about everything. Sure, I covered health and wellness stories. I was also the environment reporter, so my focus was humpback whales and endangered Hawaiian monk seals, natural resources, and watershed preservation.

I also wrote about the Kauai County Council with their traffic plans and county budgets and a Council member that was selling methamphetamine on the side. I worked with Dateline when we covered the trial of The Doomsday Couple Lori Vallow & Chad Daybell.

I covered Surfrider Foundation’s breakthrough efforts to create buildings from recycled plastic (Dennis Fujimoto! We covered that one together.) And when Margie Wood made it across the Pacific in the Singlehanded Transpac Sailing competition.

I stepped into the Kauai Infusion Center that February to gather info for story about pre-screening for cancer detection. I was also covering the new renovations at the Kauai Infusion Center and interviewing the super-skilled nurses that work there. Little did I know that I’d be spending much more time with those people very soon.

It was just 18 months later, in August 2020, when I was diagnosed with Triple Negative Stage 1 Breast Cancer. The timing of it all was overwhelming as I was newly married, the new Editor of The Garden Island Newspaper and we were about five months into the COVID-19 pandemic.

My husband and I got married in September 2019. I was diagnosed just before my 35th birthday and our first wedding anniversary.

Another 18 Months Later…

I finished chemo treatments on December 31, 2020. Radiation treatments continued throughout the next year. Now, I’m on the other side of the treatments. I finished with radiation in March 2021. I moved from Kauai to Wisconsin that June. I’ve made changes in my career – I’m freelance writing for all sorts of publications now! I’m accepting clients (shameless business plug!) – email me if you need a writer.

Since I finished chemotherapy, I’ve grown eight inches of curly hair on my head. My nails are growing out. I’m feeling better and I’m back to doing things that I love. I’m on a path toward healing.

There were a lot of things I didn’t know when I interviewed those rockstar nurses at Kauai Infusion Center in 2019. I wasn’t married yet. The COVID-19 pandemic wasn’t yet a reality. I didn’t know that I would be the one woman in eight who would battle breast cancer.

Why Write A Blog About Cancer Recovery?

Writing helped me get through cancer treatments. During those dark months, I journaled. I wrote 35 short horror stories. I created the first draft of another novel. (Those things aren’t ready for release, yet. Stay tuned!) The point is that I put a lot of words on paper during my cancer treatment. Some of it is cathartic art meant only for me. Some of it is worth sharing.

It’s worth sharing because navigating cancer treatments can get damn confusing. In fact, it gets complicated enough that oncology departments dedicate an entire position to helping patients figure out their cancer treatments. That person is called a Nurse Navigator.  They’ll help you get through the maze of doctor’s appointments, paperwork, insurance issues, fertility decisions and more.

Remember what I said about being one woman in eight to be diagnosed with breast cancer? Well, all those women have to go through a lot of the same things. We must get biopsies and CT scans, MRI imaging and IV infusions. We have to navigate fertility doctors and a dizzying number of other things.

I’m sharing tips and tricks that I learned along the way so you can make it through cancer a little more easily. I also live with gluten and dairy allergies, so you can expect my blogs to include those topics, as well! I’m just trying to be a healthy person. That’s what most of us are trying to do these days.

I’m also sharing my journey because I want friends, coworkers, clients and news sources to be able to stay connected with my story. Through my work as a reporter, I’ve met the most amazing people – I won’t name all of you, I’d for sure forget someone!!!

I’ve had the pleasure of doing articles with experts in so many different fields – health and wellness, marine and animal science, politics and community, travel, wine and coffee….(and vodka!) I want to keep you folks on my radar! I know you’ve all got great ideas on how to move past traumatic experiences to heal and create a healthy, balanced and meaningful life.

How It’ll Work

This blog is hosted on my website, I also post my journalistic writing on this website. If you haven’t explored those articles yet, take a look around. Read about Don Heacock and his water buffalo or how bird dogs are helping to save endangered ducks on Kauai. Check out what’s happening with Respite Care, San Antonio’s only full-service day care service for children with mental and physical challenges. Read about hiking in the Theodore Roosevelt National Park.

Check out my photography, too! I’ve got a few great albatross and turtle pictures, as well as other gems woven in the articles.

There’s plenty to explore – just scroll up to the top and click on the News Articles tab. Follow along my health and wellness journey by clicking on the tab for Jess Living Healthy (the blog). Find a mixture of both articles on cancer recovery and articles written for publications on my home page.

You’re welcome to follow along as we work toward creating a healthy and happy life after breast cancer.

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