Jessica’s Battle1175052_10201672960082321_1216120466_n.jpg

 

BY KAYLA MCQUILLAN

TOWER staff writer

 

Jessica Miller, 21, from Greensburg PA is a senior here at Bethany College. Her major here is English. Recently Jessica has overcome stage 2 Hodgkin’s lymphoma. This is her story.

It was January and everyone that wasn’t doing J term was at home having a blast waiting for the spring semester to begin. Just like everyone else Jessica had plans to go on a trip to Cincinnati. She had already bought her bus ticket and she was excited to get away for a while. A couple days before the trip Jessica took a fish oil pill that she thought she had swallowed wrong. She put her hands to her neck and felt a lump and immediately thought something was wrong but she let it go for a while. She showed her mother and her mother was concerned that Jessica had mono. 

After going to her family doctor and her doctor said that she needed an ultrasound. From that appointment she went and got the ultra sound and they also wanted to do a thyroid scan. She was still determined to go on her trip that she had been looking forward to. She got back from Cincinnati late Friday night  She had to get surgery on January 22nd after resting up for two or three weeks after the surgery Jessica got a call right before class when she was on skype call with her boyfriend at the time. The call was from Jessica’s surgeon calling to let her know she had stage two Hodgkin’s lymphoma. She asked the surgeon to call her parents because she didn’t want to break the news to them herself. Jessica still attended class that day. A couple days later she got her first chemo treatment in Pittsburgh at the Hillman’s cancer center on March 1st. The type of chemo treatment she received was ABVD. Her whole family was with her for her first meeting with the doctor and was there when she had to get a port in and a bone marrow biopsy all in the same day. Jessica told me what a day would be like when taking chemo she would wake up early and make sure to eat a good breakfast and her chemo treatment would start at 9 A.M. and the treatment would end usually around 12 P.M. She said you then had an hour to eat because if you didn’t eat within that time period you couldn’t eat because the taste and smell of everything changed.  Jessica said,( “ Chemo felt like the flu on steroids.”)Sleeping was difficult but she tried to sleep as much as possible to help feel better. She said, “It took about three days to finally feel like myself again.”

Jessica said that one of the hardest things was losing her hair.  She cut her hair in stages, until finally she cut it really short. She then told me a story about how she was suppose to go see her boyfriend and she had put a hat on because her hair began to fall out. After Jessica and her boyfriend awoke from a nap and found hair on Jessica’s pillow her boyfriend asked if she wanted to shave her head and she agreed. Her boyfriend and her headed out to the kitchen where she grabbed the clippers and shaved her boyfriend’s hair first then he shaved hers in return. After 6 months of intense sessions of chemo on June 18th Jessica received the news that she was now cancer free. She had to do two more months of chemo to be sure the cancer would not come back. August 2nd was her last chemo session and two weeks after that her family and friends had a party for her where about 80 people were in attendance. Jessica was overwhelmed with support from everyone even at school everyone was supportive and tried to lend a helping hand whenever she needed. During her battle Jessica stayed in school and finished out the semester on the presidents list. Jessica said her mother was her biggest supporter throughout the battle she says  “My mom basically stopped her life for me she tried to make every appointment and when I was home she would always make sure I was never alone. Her biggest goal was to make sure I was healthy again.” This is a part of Jessica’s speech that she gave at the new release of our college magazine entitled the Harbinger” It wasn't uncommon for my nurses to see me undergo treatment while tweaking the cover or copy editing this 2013 edition. She sad In June I received the wonderful news that I am cancer free and shortly after that “I emailed dr. Janeshek the first full PDF of the harbinger. We spent many hours Skyping, working to perfect the magazine before you. “

The Harbinger helped give me purpose and a reason to keep my mind off the pain from chemo. Once I saw the proofs in dr. Janeshek's office, I realized that  the progress of this magazine parallels the progress of my own health and life. I'm so thankful for the opportunity I've had to be the editor of the 2013 harbinger. Along with my healing, I'm proud that I was able to give back to the Bethany community by showcasing the most talented writers and artists on this campus.”

Jessica is now student teaching at the Wellsburg middle school for secondary ed, her advice to cancer patients is to take time out for yourself and do things that make you happy because life is too short to do anything about it. 

 

The Tower • Bethany College • Department of Communications & Media Arts • Contact Us