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Jessica Mespelt's Story
Posted on February 28 2016
January 9, 2015
Jess wakes up, gets dressed, and eats a bite or two of breakfast. She sits on the couch to wait for the school bus; falls asleep. A bit concerned I call the doctor to make an appointment since she had complained of her ear hurting the night before.
This was how the “Roller Coaster” ride started. A few hours after our doctor visit we learned that Jessica’s blood was full of white blood cells indicating something more serious. We were referred to MSTI in Boise and our worst fears were confirmed. Jessica had leukemia (ALL).
We started chemo right away. Chemo treatments were very hard on Jess, but she would still say most days were great days and earned an orange happy face bead to add to her chain of beads.
In August, we were attempting to finish the last cycle of 24 hour Methotrexate treatments; but Jessica’s blood counts were not recovering so MSTI decided to do a bone marrow test to see what was happening. The results showed that Jessica’s leukemia had returned. This was even more devastating news than the first time because now we had come to the realization that we could actually loose her to this.
The doctors talked to us about a treatment that they considered “MAGIC”. The Car T Cell therapy was a new treatment where they use your body’s own immune cells to fight your cancer. It sounded wonderful but was also so scary. Our family decided to try this new therapy as the odds of Jessica surviving a bone marrow transplant were not very promising.
Friday October 16, 2015
Jess received her “Fighter Cells”. The following day Jess started getting the “Happy Fever”. We knew the Car T cells were waking up and had started to hunt down her leukemia cells. We were transferred to the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit where things really started getting scary. Jessica’s vital organs started shutting down and she needed help with her breathing. She spent a very long 10 days asleep.
It has been a very hard road to recovery; many times I have questioned our decision to take this route but as I see her grow stronger and stronger every day and become her wonderful self I feel assured that we made the right decision.
We heard the most beautiful words ever, you daughter has no signs of leukemia in her blood or bone marrow as well as there are still “Fighter Cells” present in her blood. After 7 long weeks we get to go home just in time to spend Thanksgiving with family.
WE ARE NOW IN REMISSION
It has been one year since we first heard those devastating words and we celebrate every day with a new outlook on life remembering not to take simple things for granted. Jessica is back at school now and participating in many new things with her sister and friends. She is able to join her friends in Special Olympics as well. Jess also looks forward to taking part in activities planned to help support other families in our community who are facing many of the same challenges as our family did. Our hope now is that we continue to stay cancer free and our able to offer the same support to others in our community.