Jessica Headlee

First post: Aug 4, 2020 Latest post: Oct 16, 2020
My name is Jessica Headlee, I'm 24 years old, will be married to Ethan Wilson for a year in October, I'm a volunteer at the Baltimore National Aquarium, and I've been diagnosed with cancer. It's a rare form of germ-cell cancer called yolksac vulvar cancer. There have been 15 documented cases in the past 30 years, it affects men and women in their 20s, and infants.

This started 2-3 weeks after my full gynological exam and a week after the state of MD shut down. My doctor and I thought it was a cyst and nothing to worry about. Then in late May, almost 2 months later, it grew exponentially and started aching. After many hoops, I finally met Dr. Kilo who operated on me and removed the lump. The tissue didn't look right and she sent it to pathology, who wasn't sure if it was cancer or not because I looked and tested like a healthy 24 year old. After other doctors weighed in and said it couldn't be cancer, because I'm young and healthy, she wasn't satisfied and she sent some samples to Hawkins. In late June, we got the call that it was indeed cancer and an aggressive one. So she helped me make appointments to get a PET scan and to see a specialist, because by then the tumor grew back (less than 3 weeks after surgery) with a vengeance. After another surgery, which was more intensive and invasive as the first one, we waited until I was recovered enough to start chemo.

I'm currently in chemotherapy. I'm the youngest patient by about 20 years most days. My treatment is intense because of how aggressive other germ-cell cancers are. I'll have 3-4 treatment cycles before they run more tests to see if there's any cancer left, and then we'll go from there. The intensity of the treatment is kicking my butt, but I appreciate all the help my husband and I have been receiving.

These are the cards I have been dealt and I'm trying to make the best of it. I will survive. I will teach my husband to snorkel, we'll swim with whale sharks, explore at least the water world, and I'll say "I love you" on our 50th anniversary. My stubbornness will push me through and hopefully my family genetics will kick in too!

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