For ten days I’ve been sliding down the sheer face of a cliff, desperately grabbing for something to slow my plummet. It’s been the most painful and unsettling time I’ve experienced since my diagnosis.

Every problem feels magnified. There are no small issues. Nearly every decision is life-changing or life-threatening. I’m trying to pick through them, teasing out just one at a time so I can try to deal with something. So I can try to unravel a mess of a life.

This week I began to understand one of my many current flaws: I equate people wanting to help me with people’s want for me to live.

When I was first diagnosed, my friends had a wonderfully successful fundraiser that really helped me get through that first year and a half with an income cut in half and boatloads of new bills. Seth and I escalated our plan to combine our homes and households. I cut my expenses and changed my lifestyle to better accommodate my new income. But I still have important responsibilities, and after putting it off as long as possible, I had to bite the bullet and ask for help again.

The decision to go public seemed logical. My blog has a small but respectable audience, and I thought maybe just $10 or $15 from a lot of friendly strangers wouldn’t have a huge impact on our economy, but it would make a very significant one on me. Two new and very fun online friends helped me launch my YouCaring website at the beginning of September. We planned it using my signature Frog List: Things To Do Before I Croak.

Unfortunately, there are many people in need and only so much help to go around. There would never be a fair way to say one person is more deserving than another. (I wouldn’t anyway – it would be rude!) But I can tell you that a lot of people have a better story than I do.

I’m well-educated, middle-class, and I’ve never saved anyone from a burning building. I’ve always tried to do the right thing and live my life focused on love first. But those things don’t make me stand out. They certainly don’t make me “better” or more deserving than anyone else.

The most unique thing about me is that I could be you. Average health, with friends, a family, and a bright future, yet dying very suddenly of lung cancer. My true WANT is to be worthy of your time, interest, and compassion; not your $20.

But desperation brought me to a point where I just thought if people cared enough, everything would be okay. That somehow there would be enough strangers who cared and had money to make the end of my life as easy, comfortable, and happy as possible. I now see how illogical this is, and quite frankly, I’m a bit embarrassed for getting so carried away. Donations do not equal caring. Nor do they equal whether or not people have given up on me living.

Part of me needs to accept that I’m not going to get the help I need. I think it’s so difficult because I’ve always been able to work hard to get what I needed to take care of my family and myself. But those rules no longer apply – and that screws with one of my basic value systems. I keep coming back to “I must still have something to offer someone…”

I’m going to continue to focus on the things that bring me that intrinsic happiness. Writing for my blog and hopefully other publications too. Spending time with my loved ones. Neverending property searches to get my mom closer to me. And maybe it’s time to think about wedding details too. My Frog List will continue to drive the fundraiser website, and I will have new updates posted soon! If someone chooses to contribute, I promise the money will be used for something that will bring me peace and joy.

12 responses to “Semi-Precious

  • Debbie Malaczewski

    Hi Jessica,

    I will definitely contribute!! I wanted to attend your last fundraiser and was not able to, something I regret very much. My heart and love goes out to you Jessica. I wish I could take away all your suffering and your pain. Please know I think about you often. I will make a donation once you tell me where to send it. Lots O’ Love, Debbie Malaczewski

    • Jessica Rice

      Have no regrets, Debbie. And maybe in lieu of a donation, you could share my blog with your extensive healthcare support community. Blog readers do make me very happy. 😊

  • tammycarmona

    This post broke my heart! People mean well, but no one can truly understand how cancer changes every aspect of your life unless they are really close. I wish I could help! I’m in the same position right now. Going from a full time job to nothing is so hard! Your in my prayers!

  • Angela Evans

    Jessica–U R not semi-precious,U R 100% precious. I so appreciate your willingness to share your story w/ all of us. Other than the blog written by
    Dr. James Salwitz called “Sunrise”,there is little to none first hand accts of
    people suffering from cancer. I am so very sorry for the extremely difficult
    place you find yourself currently in. May the God of all comfort bring you
    peace and comfort and the knowledge of eternal joy.

  • Tori

    Hi Jessica, I read your blog from start to finish and you have had quite a journey! I am a fellow 30-something stage 4 nsclc, though I am negative for EGFR and ALK so I am on chemo. Thank you so much for sharing your experiences, especially the in-depth explanation of the clinical trial (that will be somewhere in my future, I am sure). Best of luck to you, and you have another dedicated reader of your blog.

  • kimmywink

    I wish I could stop your plummet. I think I have some old climbing gear collecting dust in the basement I could ship out to you if you think that would help. …maybe not.

    Always wanting the best for you and Seth! xoxo

  • Mary Ann

    Jessica, I just started reading your blog (at work – uh oh) and plan on starting from the beginning and all the way through when I’m on my own time this weekend. First, I want to say how amazingly well you write and how you communicate your feelings, emotions, and what you are going through. None of us can truly understand your particular journey as you are a unique being, but anyone with an ounce of empathy can certainly feel a degree of what you feel. This human experience does have its similarities and pain, sadness, loneliness, fear all have a similar feel although the degrees and personal experience with each are surely unique to each of us.

    Having just lost a very dear friend just weeks ago, reading this blog has truly helped me understand a lot. Coming from you who are going through so much, much of what I did not understand about his own journey and decisions have become clearer after reading about yours.

    So, when you conclude that you ‘must still have something to offer’, I can say with certainty and a resounding ‘yes’ that you do. You are doing it for sure with this blog and I would bet in many more ways. I thank you for what you gave to me today by the gift of this blog.

    I will pray for your comfort, strength and peace – as well as for your family.

    Thank you so much.

  • Maureen

    Dear Jessica, grab my hand & I’ll slow your plummet And we’ll all pull you back up to level ground. You are not in this alone. Yesterday marked the 1 year anniversary of my lung cancer diagnosis . I too was caught off guard as i am a healthy nonsmoker . So I really know what you are going through. I just started reading your blog last night. I started reading at the beginning & stayed up until 2 am following your adventure. You are an Amazing person & Thanks so much for sharing your Life &journey with all of us. You have a real gift. You are a sensitive & talented writer and obviously a very caring & Loving person. I wish you strength , Love, and comfort Always ~Maureen

    • Jessica Rice

      Thanks Maureen, I was comforted by your note. It certainly is an adventure, and it’s nice to know I’m not going it all alone. Best of luck and best health to you.


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