The strings of so-called “journey beads” document Jessica’s four months with non-Hodgkin’s Burkitt’s Lymphoma, but there are no beads to mark the month of school she’s missed so far. She’s still bald, she still feels a bit weak when she has to climb the stairs, and she’s still got a port in her chest to pump in the chemotherapy drugs, but Jessica has all but decided she’ll be going back to school in December.
“If I’m not back in school by Christmas, I’m throwing a fit,” she said.
Jessica had just finished seventh grade at
Since then, Jessica has spent the majority of her time in
For her mother, Tina Mohler, Jessica’s illness forced a rapid realignment of her family’s life. A single mother for the last two years, Tina took a leave of absence from her job at Bend Urology, giving up a steady income as well as medical insurance to care for her daughter. Friends took in Tina and Jessica, but she’s struggled to keep up with the cost of a $600 a month medical insurance premium and the cost of food, gas, and lodging necessitated by their regular trips to
According to Tina, it’s evident her daughter is getting a little restless spending so much time at home with her mother and away from her friends at school. Jessica’s been able to chat with her friends online, but, Tina said, it’s no substitute for face-to-face contact.
“She’s spent a lot of time with mom. She probably won’t be unhappy at all when she turns 18 and can leave home,” Tina said.
Jessica said she’s been able to read a lot in the last few months, and she gets some tutoring at the cancer ward in
Despite everything that’s happened to her over the last four months, Jessica says she’s lucky. In her many trips to the cancer ward at Legacy Emanuel, she’s met dozens of children in much worse shape than her.
“Going through this is hard. Knowing what a lot of kids go through, little kids – I can’t get through it, how do they get through it? But some of these little kids, they’ve been going through chemotherapy their whole lives,” Jessica said.
This week, the Elton Gregory Sparrow Club will be selecting Jessica as its Sparrow for the 2007-08 school year. Started in
Tina said the financial assistance offered by the Sparrow Club is appreciated, but just as importantly, Jessica’s role as Sparrow will mean more interaction with her classmates. A group of students from Elton Gregory are expected to drop by for a visit within the week, provided Jessica isn’t rushed off to
A fund has been set up to allow help Jessica’s family deal with the cost of her ongoing treatment. Donations may be made at the