5-year-old Jessly is a happy-go-lucky kid, whose positive attitude shines bright no matter the circumstances.
Fighting cancer is all that Jessly has known. She was diagnosed with anaplastic astrocytoma, a type of brain tumor, just before her first birthday.
Jessly’s parents started noticing that she wasn’t meeting standard developmental milestones as an infant. They took her to different doctors, and she started physical therapy, but little Jessly still wasn’t progressing.
Jessly’s mom, Debbie, knew something wasn’t right and trusted her “mama gut”.
Another doctor’s visit and an MRI later, Jessly’s family was given the heartbreaking news… doctors had found a very large brain tumor.
Three days later, Jessly underwent brain surgery where they were able to remove about 70-75% of the tumor. She has also endured chemotherapy and radiation on her treatment journey, and thankfully her tumor hasn’t shown any growth since 2021.
But the tumor and subsequent treatment have had long-term impacts on her memory and have caused her to lose the use of her right side, making it difficult for her to stand and walk independently. Jessly requires constant care and accommodations as a child with disabilities.
Despite everything she’s been through, Jessly is a bubbly, joyful little lady who lights up any room.
Her mom told us, “She loves to sing and color. She loves school. She loves animals. She loves people. She’ll say hi to anybody.”
Even when Jessly attends appointments, she’s excited to see the nurses and doctors - she’s never known anything different.
In navigating this journey alongside her daughter, Debbie has had to research, reach out relentlessly, and get second opinions from faraway hospitals. Connecting with other mothers in the childhood cancer community has also opened her eyes to different medications and new care approaches.
But the fact remains that Jessly’s treatment has been largely based on protocol developed in the 1980’s. Debbie shared her frustration that, “childhood cancer is becoming so common, but there’s a lack of funding [for new research].”
We desperately need more research into better treatments and cures for childhood cancers, for Jessly and all the kids just like her. This is why we ride.
Jessly, you’ve inspired us to pedal as hard as we can this September! Let’s do this!