In 2019 while waiting to board a flight at the airport with her husband and one-year-old son, Jessica Deitcher found herself in the bathroom passing massive blood clots. Sensing something was terribly wrong, the family returned home and Jessica was admitted to Vancouver General. It was then when she first heard the words from her nurse, “I think it’s cancer.”
Within days, Jessica was referred to BC Cancer – Vancouver where tests confirmed she was suffering with Stage IIB cervical cancer. Upon further investigation by her oncologists, Jessica’s cervix was discovered to be three times its normal size and the cancer was close to reaching her uterus.
“I am so thankful for the nurse in emergency who knew what he was looking at and made the call for me,” remembers Jessica. “I won’t ever forget that his quick diagnosis likely saved my life.”
Under the watchful eye of her cancer care team, Jessica underwent 28 days of external radiation, five sessions of chemotherapy and four sessions of brachytherapy.
In the midst of this new reality, Jessica, who is also a grade four elementary school teacher, had been on maternity leave for a year, and was supposed to be going back to school in September 2020. Instead, she was headed into more treatment and was told by doctors that she would require months of healing before she could return to her students.
“Being an elementary-school teacher, I wanted to know EVERYTHING about my diagnosis and treatment, and I asked questions to everyone who helped me along the way,” says Jessica. “I was then able to explain the information in simpler terms to my friends and family, which helped them understand and have fewer fears.”
In January 2021, Jessica returned to her work as a teacher, and continues to navigate COVID-19. She has remained passionate about sharing her story, and remembers how reading about others in a similar situation gave her hope.
“I read many testimonials online of cervical cancer survivors, and I clung to them like a life raft. I think I could be someone’s raft if they need one, just by sharing what I went through and how I got through it.”
Throughout her treatment, Jessica also remained as active as she could with walks during the day, followed by yoga in the evenings. She knew that for her, movement was a way to help alleviate some of the symptoms and help keep her body feeling strong.
As Jessica continues her journey back to a new normal, she will be participating in the BC Cancer Foundation’s Workout to Conquer event that runs for the entire month of May. It’s Jessica’s way to honour other cancer patients across British Columbia, while continuing her own pledge to using activity as a way of feeling better.
We thank Jessica for sharing her story, and for helping to build a community of support for others facing a similar situation.
To register for Workout to Conquer Cancer, visit: http://www.workouttoconquercancer.ca