My name is Jessica. I’m twenty-one years old, and my cancer story began two years ago. My aunt passed away from stomach cancer at the age of forty-three. Because this type of cancer predominantly affects older men in Asian countries, my family knew something was wrong. After genetic testing, we discovered that my grandma, father and aunt were all carriers of the mutation of the CDH1 gene. This mutation gives carriers an 85% chance of developing stomach cancer, as well as a 60% lobular breast cancer risk. In June of 2012, I found out that I had the mutation. I tried to move on with my life and go back for my junior year at Virginia Tech, but depression reared its ugly head. I ended up withdrawing from school in October because of this. As soon as I got home, I had my first routine endoscopy. Against all odds, they found two spots of cancer in my stomach. Two weeks later, I had my entire stomach removed. I am now mature, strong, a fighter. A survivor. Through cancer, I have grown as a person, and for the better. I struggled with depression for a long time, even after the surgery. I had to hit bottom before I could recover.
Getting involved with Stupid Cancer has helped me a lot. I’ve met people my age from all different points of diagnosis and treatment. After feeling so alone, it was nice to become part of a community and support system. The OMG! Summit in Las Vegas taught me so much about myself and my disease, and allowed me to make some lifelong friends. This organization has also led me to some amazing life experiences.
Within the young adult cancer community, we hold no one’s disease above anyone else’s. It is not a contest about body parts because the playing field is leveled when stupid cancer comes along. There are no good cancers. Benign tumors can be just as devastating as malignant ones. Issues of isolation, fertility, relationships, fear, parenting, caregiving, careers and insurance are equally shared. We believe that when the doctor says, “You’re cured. Go home”, that’s not the end of the story. We have the right to survive with dignity and quality and we deserve to be treated age-appropriately. Cancer survivorship is an art; and the art of your survivorship is how you choose to get busy living. This is who we are. We are one community. We are hundreds of thousands strong. We are changing the rules.
We are STUPID CANCER!