In 2013, at the age of ten, Jess began experiencing severe nausea and debilitating headaches that would wake her up from sleep almost every night. Upon discovering pressure on her optic nerve, Jess's pediatrician urgently referred her to SickKids. A subsequent CT scan revealed the presence of a brain stem astrocytoma, a type of brain tumour.
“I didn’t really understand what a brain tumour meant,” recalls Jess. “But I quickly learned.”
Jess and her parents were told that the tumour was inoperable and the the recommended treatment was 70 rounds of chemotherapy.
After Jess had undergone nine rounds of chemotherapy, she suffered a stroke. During her hospital recovery, doctors discovered that the chemotherapy had not yielded the desired results.
“We were horrified to learn that,” shares Jess. “Because we’d also been told that the tumour was inoperable.”
Although the procedure carried significant risks, Jess bravely faced the operation, fully aware that it might be life-threatening. After a ten-hour surgery, she woke up to the news that the majority of the tumour had been successfully removed, leaving her with a renewed sense of hope.
Jess admits that at times her journey with cancer has felt isolating, but she found moments of joy and richness through MBF. Today, it’s her platform to advocate for paediatric brain tumour research.
“I feel certain that so many of the advances in treatment for paediatric brain tumours have come from funding from MBF,” smiles Jess.