1 in 3 people in the United States will be diagnosed with cancer in their lifetime. Even if you yourself are not diagnosed with one of these diseases, it is highly probable that you have family and friends whom have or are battling some form of cancer. Everyone has a cancer story. This is ours...
In April of 2018 Jessica began experiencing severe GI symptoms. For months she tried different diets and saw different doctors trying to resolve it. She was diagnosed with several different GI disorders. However, the treatments did not work and her symptoms continued to worsen. In typical Jess style, she continued to push through and continue to run her equestrian business, JH Eventing. During this time, one of the members of her beloved “Jack Pack” (two Jack Russell Terrier brothers she has had since their birth) fell sick and was admitted to Tufts. Burghley was diagnosed with hemangiosarcoma (an extremely aggressive cancer of the blood vessels) and left this earth on July 22, 2018*. Jess continued to push on through her awful symptoms and heartbreak. Yet, she knew when Burghley had cancer that he was giving her a sign.
At the end of August 2018 (upon driving home from Town Hill Farm Horse Trials coaching at Area 1 Championships) Jess was admitted to the Brigham and Women’s hospital in Boston where she spent quite a bit of time and then received some unnerving news for her 30th birthday. Unfortunately, Burghley was right. As it turns out, Jess had been misdiagnosed. She has cancer. Stage 4 colon cancer to be specific.
While terrifying, Jessica’s team of physicians at the Brigham and Dana-Farber have stated that their goal is a CURE. Treatment will be tough, but all of those who know Jess know that she is TOUGHER. A saying in the equine world is “The Show Must Go On”. It is a saying Jess has always lived out and is continuing to do so while undergoing treatment. Jess is beyond appreciative for her family, friends, barn family, and support system for being by her side during this time and letting her go on with some sort of normalcy in her life. On any given day you will find her in the barn teaching lessons before treatment, and then right back at it, transportable chemo pack in tow, once radiation is done for the day. While the past few months have felt incredibly long already, Jess still has a long way to go with no end in sight for treatment.
During this time, Jess’ ability to ride, teach, and run her business to the level she had previously will not be possible. Her main concern is to make sure that Baile Hill Farm and JH Eventing, including the horses and all of the clients, continue to thrive during this time. Purchasing products on this page and/or giving a donation will help lighten the stress associated with running this business and continuing Jess' dream and vision during this difficult time.
*For her Birthday this year Jess raised money in Burghley’s honor for the Canine Cancer Foundation. Buck Off Cancer also raised money with saddle pad sales or the foundation as well and will continue giving to them as much as possible in hopes of a cure. Burghley was Jess' best friend, side kick, copilot, mouser, and leader of #jackpackplusoneplusanother. To help support this organization, you can visit their page: http://wearethecure.org/donate-to-the-national-canine-cancer-foundation/
The Buck Off Cancer campaign is currently in the process of becoming a 501c entity and will help other cancer warriors in the future. We are all in this together! Join the cause and fight the good fight with us!
Update as 1/4/19: Jess has had a big month. End of December Jess had very invasive surgery to remove as much of the mass and affected lymph nodes as possible. During this Jess also had a lot of intestinal manipulation with hopes to reconnect her intestines in the spring or early summer. Jess was in positive spirits after surgery-especially when she got a wake up message post op from her favorite football player-Danny Amendola. Jess entertained the nurses by having punching bags, diffusers, movie hook ups, her own hospital gowns, multiple outfit changes, and hospital parties in post op. During this time she was so appreciative for her families support and for Tanya coming out from Utah to take care of the dogs as well as all her friends that came to visit. Booli stayed at the hospital most nights and kept spirits up. On a mission to return home, Jess power walked around the hospital and did whatever it took to get herself discharged with one mission in mind-get to Aiken, SC. Jess eagerly wrapped and loaded horses for 2 rounds of shippers (having Tanya and Donnie lift the trunks and items but still determined to be involved and see the horses off). Unfortunately after returning home for a few days and under the care of visiting nurses, Jess become very ill with a lump over one of her incision sites and a 103+ fever. She was instantly rushed back to Brigham and Women’s. A massive infection had settled in and drains had to be put in place to get the infected fluid out of her failing body. Talks of kidneys and liver infection brewed along with talks of removing them. Luckily she was spared of this and after days of draining, being in severe pain, and IV antibiotics Jess celebrated New Years in the hospital and was making progress. Jess was picked up from the hospital on 1/3 in her truck and headed to SC (unable to drive or sit up) but with the help of friends Bobby and Amanda Lombardo, made the trek and arrived in SC just in time to enjoy some 70 degree sunny weather. While she’s bummed she can’t be as active and ride like she would like to, she is happy to be involved in the horses care, programs, and with southern friends.
1/18/19: Jess flew back to Boston on 1/17 for recheck appointments as well as to start her next round of chemotherapy. Jess sat in an infusion suite for hours and is hooked up to a pump. Jess is receiving two types of chemo which doctors warn her is going to knock her down and out. This will gone on for a minimum for 4 months. There are many side effects such as the normal nausea, appetite loss, hair thinning and loss, energy loss as well as severe sensitivity to the cold, loss of feeling in her finger tips and toes, and along with many other unpleasant ones. Jess is struggling to keep up the expenses of both the barn in MA and SC as well as her medical bills, care, transport, and being restricted to work as much as she’d like and need. The plan is to fly home for a day every other week for the next several months. The doctors have strict restrictions and keep saying it is “ambitious” to fly back and forth and work and they’ve never had another in the same chemo program do this, but we expect nothing less from Jess. During this time Jess is so grateful for her mom dropping everything to drive her around, her dad for not quite understanding Jess’ need to stay busy (or overdo it as he says) but is going with the flow, and Tanya on standby for whatever Jess needs. Jess is also so appreciative for her staff in AIken who has stepped it up and kept the program running at tip top shape. The Sutton barn and horses look great as well as the staff is doing a fabulous job. This wouldn’t be possible without them and there aren’t enough thank yous in the world! Jess has a great support system of friends in SC and is so thankful for them checking in on her and helping out! Jess also has been busy with rescuing some ditch dogs and riding them homes. So if anyone wants a ditch dog-contact Jess! Jess’s treatment went well and she’s headed back to SC to enjoy some southern medicine. Stay tuned.
2/26/29: Taken from Jess' Instagram/FB "The elephant in the room. A few days ago I saw Courtney Cooper at the Vista and she said “I bet it’s all anyone asks you about. You don’t have to talk about it. Tell me about your horse.” Finally, a normal conversation where I don’t have to talk about “it”. I hear your worry, I see your concern, I feel your uneasiness. I appreciate it, I am overwhelmed by your love and support. Thank you. I figure everyone is owed an update since I’m going to continue living as normally as possible and changing the subject or answering “never better” “living the dream” every time I’m asked in passing. Right now I’m in the midst of a long chemo run of treatments. This was intended to be 4 months but due to a variety of complications and emergency procedures and setbacks (all that have been deemed as just bad luck) that 4 months is starting to look more like 6 months or more. We’re onto plans b, c, d and so forth. My team of doctors are saints and real life super heros. I could travel from Aiken to Boston in my sleep at this point (and I practically do every other week or more frequent landing after midnight and then a day full of appointments from 6am-4 pm and then right back to the airport for my 6:00 flight). Some days I’m partially human. Other days I’m MIA. I do what I can when I can. After chemo I’ll need an additional 2 surgeries. I can’t even think about those yet. My calendar of dates keeps being pushed back but I know they’ll be a day I get to post that we did it, we cured it. Until then hopefully you can understand my request to want to smile and live as normally as I can when I can. I hope to enjoy those moments with you all. This wasn’t in my life plan but you can only play the hand you’re dealt. Thank you for having my back. #buckoffcancer #ittakesavillage #bettertogether
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