Jessie’s Story

Site created on August 9, 2019

Welcome to our CaringBridge website. We are using it to keep family and friends updated in one place. We appreciate your support and words of hope and encouragement. Thank you for visiting.

A few months ago my daughter, Jessie and her boyfriend, Morgan, moved  from Oregon to Pennsylvania to find jobs and have a new experience. Jessie began working shortly after the move, turned 27, and was beginning to build her new life on the East Coast, and was enjoying spending time with family and friends. But, about a month ago, she discovered a lump on her sternum.  She had been having back pain for about a year,  and after month of testing, today Jessie found out that she has Stage IV Primary Mediastinal B-Cell Lymphoma which is rapidly growing. This cancer most frequently affects young women. She has numerous tumors in her chest cavity and one on her small intestine, and other lymph nodes on her chest, neck, and tonsils are affected as well. She will begin her first series of treatments on August 13. She will be hospitalized for 6 days and will receive Epoch-R treatments which are a combination of chemotherapy drugs. This process will repeat every 3 weeks for 6 cycles, each time requiring a 5-day stay in the hospital. There are so many side effects to chemotherapy, but there's been a high success rate for this type of therapy for this particular lymphoma. The doctor told us that after the 1st cycle of treatment that as much as 90% of the cancer can be destroyed. Jessie is very hopeful that she can continue working but is not sure that will be possible. She may be weak, tired and sick , and she has to be very cautious as her immune system will be suppressed,  and she will be more vulnerable to other illnesses. She will be receiving her treatment at the Harrisburg Hospital, Harrisburg, PA. 

Newest Update

Journal entry by Jessie Karlovich

Hi all! 
Long time, no post. 

Just wanted to shoot a quick update out to everybody, especially as so many have been privy to the twists and turns of the last month. 

On May 27th I had my 6 month PET scan and it came back showing a small increase in activity and size in the remaining tumor mass. Obviously, this freaked everybody out because it did mean another biopsy. My oncologist wasn't super worried, but I definitely was because it could signal a recurrence of the cancer. 

Therefore, on June 17th, I had a bronchoscopy (I think I'm spelling that right). Sore throat followed for a few days and then fast forward to today when I just had my follow-up appointment. Also, I love my thoracic surgeon because he is terrifyingly blunt and likes to provide all options. I went into the biopsy thinking that if it came back positive, that meant more treatment of some kind, and if it came back negative, I was most likely going to be scheduled for full-on crazy chest surgery to access the tumor behind my sternum. Thank goodness my oncologist is the optimist to his more pessimistic side! 

The biopsy came back negative! The two caveats to that are that they 1) weren't able to biopsy the main tumor mass as it has cleverly lodged itself between my sternum and my heart and is therefore unreachable by a needle from the throat and 2) my oncologist has yet to have the opportunity to speak with my thoracic surgeon post-biopsy regarding his level of confidence in the tissue samples and whether he was able to access all the lymph nodes he felt he needed to for a good biopsy. 

But overall, good news. The results are an acceleration in my next PET scan. Instead of 6 months from the last, we are doing approximately 3 months. At that point, if there is further growth, more conversations will have to be had, but right now I can put off feeling nervous or anxious beyond what any cancer survivor normally experiences.

I hope everybody else is doing well! We are social distancing, staying at home, and I'm picking my job hunt back up (I've been waiting for the biopsy results for a few weeks to really send out applications). Morgan is still working from home and Archie is still shedding everywhere and being a snuggle monster. 

Thanks for all the care guys! 

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