The Final Chapter

Last Friday night was probably the hardest night of my life.   At the young age of 33, my best friend, my fiancé, the love of my life, Jessica Beth Rice passed away from complications due to Bronchioloalveolar Carcinoma lung cancer.

Early Tuesday morning on March 25th, Jessica was rushed to our local hospital by ambulance due to extreme head pain, nausea, and dizziness.  After several rounds of Morphine and then Dilaudid for pain relief, the doctors were able to keep her stable enough for a cat scan.   The cat scan revealed severe swelling of the tumors in her head, most alarming was the one at the back of her head near the cerebellum.   The ER doctors immediately consulted with Jessica’s regular team of doctors, and she was then quickly transported to the larger sister hospital facility located a bit further away.

Once there, I met with our regular team of doctors and surgeons to find out what could be done.   An MRI was ordered, and the hope was that most of the tumors were just swollen, and possibly treated with a combination of steroids and minor surgery.  Unfortunately, the MRI revealed that all 25 tumors had grown “significantly” in just the past two months.   The tumor at the back of her head which was the most alarming had grown from 1cm to 3cm, and was causing extreme pressure in her head.   This was the realization that she was running out of time.   Surgery was not an option due to the size and number of tumors, steroids were no longer effectively controlling the swelling as they had previously, and we were out of options.  Doctors gave us 3 weeks…. at best.

On Wednesday, Jessica woke up for a few moments, and I just held her as I told her what was going on.   She looked up and just said, “I thought we would have more time”.   As I held her, we both cried for awhile until she fell back asleep.   For the next several hours, I sat there accompanied by her mother, held her hand, and talked to her as much as possible.   I met with the Hospice navigators that afternoon, and arranged for at-home hospice at our house, which was Jessica’s wish.

Jessica’s brother, Cisco arrived at the hospital a few hours later, and she woke up when I told her he was there.  She opened up her eyes, and said “Hi boy, it must be pretty bad if you’re here.”   They talked for a few minutes, and she told him it was going to be OK, and that he should “take care of mom.”  Cisco held her hand for the next few minutes, and talked to her until she again fell asleep.   I again sat by her side, holding her hand all night, and monitored her pain level and vital signs.  By early morning, we had to increase her pain medication once again to keep her comfortable.   The increase in medication made her extremely drowsy and she mostly stayed asleep, but her comfort was the most important thing to me.

Just before the hospice-transport arrived on Thursday afternoon, I met again with our Oncologist who came by to see her again before transport.   I told him what I was seeing in how long the current level of pain medications were working, and how the window of effectiveness was shrinking with each dose.   He just nodded his head and told me to make sure that beyond everything, my job now was to make sure she was comfortable once I got Jessica home.   His said that we were now down to just a few days, no longer the initial time of up to 3 weeks.

Jessica came home for the final time that afternoon.   The Hospice nurse was at the house, and Jessica was made as comfortable as possible in the surroundings she wanted to be in.   Family and friends were by her side for the next several hours, and I kept vigil by her side for another night, administering her IV medications every two hours as prescribed to keep her comfortable.

Nurses arrived early Friday morning, and reviewed the medication and activity log I kept which described what I was seeing in her condition overnight.   After an examination, our nurse told us to prepare, and that we only had a few hours left.  Jessica took her last breath at 9:12pm that evening.   She was surrounded by family in her final moments, with her bunny Blossom guarding from under her bed.   She was not in pain, which was something I had promised her, passing peacefully in her sleep.

Jessica had hoped that this blog, and her story be a source of both inspiration and hope for others with cancer.   Not just lung cancer, but for any illness that we as mere mortals fall victim to.   She didn’t think of herself and a patriot or fighter, but just someone that “did what anyone else would do” in here situation.   She was not religious, but did have faith in the science that was being worked on by so many researchers around the world.   It was that faith that pushed her to seek out the latest treatments and drug trials, both of which extended her life from the initial diagnosis in November 2011 of 10 months, to almost 2 1/2 years.   I will be forever grateful to Dr. Robert Roush and his team, for every stone they turned over in order to get Jessica the best treatments that were available in the country.  We both believed in him and his team, and they never let us down.

Jessica would want to be remembered for her love of animals, and her devotion to them in both her volunteer work, and for the many who still reside on the family farm, especially her pony Shadow.   She was an advocate for the cancer community, and many of the articles she wrote are listed throughout this blog.   She also never believed that anyone “loses their fight to cancer,” and would debate anyone on the topic all night long.   I will remember all of the wonderful places we went together, and the time we spent together.   The big grin on her face when she climbed into her MINI Cooper, dropped the top, and took off down a windy road.   And the peaceful look on her face while holding her bunny Blossom, or the two of us just curled up on the couch together.   I miss you so much Jessica!   You were my better half, and the love of my life!   Goodbye for now, baby.

 

 

Jessica and Seth Jessica Jessica and SethJessica

 

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33 responses to “The Final Chapter

  • Sjoukje

    Hi Seth,

    thank you so much for writing this and sharing with all of us around the world. It cannot have been an easy thing to do.

    I for one will not forget Jessica. Reading her blog was an inspiration and I hope to be as brave as she was should I ever be in a similar situation.

    Sending you and the family much love and strength.
    xx

  • Debbie, Bella, and angel Brownie

    Rest in peace sweet lady. You will be missed. Thank you, Seth, for being the man that you are and taking such good care of Jessica.

  • Kim

    Beautiful words for a beautiful person!! We love you, Seth!

  • Tracey

    Thank you, Seth. That was a beautiful tribute, for your beautiful Jessica.

  • Sally pitman

    Jessica’s strength and humor were an inspiration to those of us who now mourn her loss but find solace in her memory. My heartfelt sympathy goes out to you, Seth, and to Jessica’s family and friends.

  • Ruth Rainwater

    Mere words can’t even begin to help ease your loss. Jessica was an inspiration to me in my own journey, and I know there are many who are missing her. Stay strong, Seth, and know we all are holding you up in prayer and sending strength and courage. Blessings.

  • Barbara Rosenthal

    I am so very sorry and will miss her.

  • patricia

    Jessica made a difference! What more could we mortal beings hope for? Blessing to all of you.

  • Mike Smith

    Seth,

    Sorry does not seem enough of a sediment to convey to you at this difficult time. I thinkt “thank you” is more of what I would like to say. Thank you for being so strong to help out a very special person. Thank you for allowing all of us to be a part of yours and Jessica’s life. Although many times after reading one of her blog posts, I had to wipe the tears from my eyes, they always drove me to do better in my own life. Thank you for this post. Knowing that Jessica left our world surrounded by all the people, this includes Blossom, that she loved and was not in any pain is as much a relief as I could ever hope in that situation.

    It may not of been Jessica’s intention but her Cancer Blog transcended the Cancer Community and provided hope and inspiration to everyone that followed yours and her story.

    You are in my thoughts and thank you and Jessica for making me a better person.

  • Beverly Delcambre

    Thank you, Jessica and Seth, for sharing your journey with us. You both have taught me so much about coping with the challenges of illness and how to help my family. You both and your family are surrounded by a community of love and blessings. Wishing you peace. Bev

  • Hayley & The Essex Buns.

    I only “knew” Jessica through her nurse bunny blossom on bunspace and facebook, she was an inspiration and showed such strength. Now she can rest, pain free.
    I don’t know the words to say that could even start to bring you and Jessica’s family and friends comfort. But thank you for blogging this. You are all in my thoughts and my deepest sympathies to you all. X

  • Sharon Wierwille

    I am so sorry for you, as it is obvious you loved Jessica very much. I pray that you can find comfort in great memories. We at Inspire are thinking of you with love and appreciate Jessica’s blog.

    Sharon

  • Kathy Christensen

    Thank you Seth for sharing your story. I can only imagine the pain you must be going through. But please know that Jessica made a difference in my life. My sister who has lung cancer commented on Jessica’s blog and that’s how I found it and started following it. Her stories were beautiful and so honest, it has made me understand so much of what my sister is going through. You are such an amazing man to love and support Jessica through her journey of cancer. My thoughts and prayers are with you and the family.

  • Toni-Marie

    Seth,

    When we heard that Jessica passed, we were heartbroken. Her blog was such a powerful voice to a cause that is so near and dear to our hearts. Everyday we hear about more people who are diagnosed and more and more we are questioning why. Jessica has helped removed the stigma that only smokers get lung cancer. She took such a horrible negative and with her words and attitude, turned it into a call to action. Like we remember our friend Joe with our fundraising, we will remember Jessica. Please know she touched many of our lives and we will not forget her.

    It was our honor and our pleasure to help her cross an item off her frog list. Please know you are in our thoughts and Jessica will never be forgotten.

    Toni-Marie on behalf of the board of directors of Down Goes Cancer- The Joe Mak Memorial Foundation.

  • Caroline

    Seth,
    Thank you posting this. It cannot have been easy. My deepest condolences to you and Jessica’s family. I don’t know any of you, I just stumbled upon Jessica’s blog several weeks ago. Not too long afterwards, a work colleague of mine was diagnosed with stage iv lung cancer. I hope that he will fight as hard as Jessica. Her candidness in detailing her fight brought awareness to this awful disease. I know that many have been and will be inspired by her words. I know she inspired me.

    Sincerely,
    Caroline

  • rita nauman

    thank you so much for everything. i felt a kinship with Jessica that it is now clear, many of us with cancer who found our way to her blog felt. i wish that i had known more that this blog of her, but feel blessed to have had that little part of her. my thoughts and prayers are with you….

  • tammycarmona

    So sorry to read this. Jessica was an inspiration to me.

  • andy benoit

    I am so, so, sorry to hear of her passing. I am just some guy in Louisiana who happened to stumble upon her blog last year and I can say with honesty that her ability to communicate through words made me feel as if I knew her and you. Peace be with you and all of her 4 legged friends who will miss her as well.

  • Alan Beattie

    You must be a top bloke Seth! I always looked forward to reading Jessica’s blog…I sure going to miss it!!
    Wishing all of Jessica’s family and friends all the best
    Oxoxox

  • Tim DeLooze

    Seth,
    Thank you so much for sharing. I loved reading Jessica’s blog and was cheering her from here in South Carolina. I never responded before her passing as I lost my wife to small cell a little over 18 months ago and I didn’t want her or you to know that. I know the loss you are feeling and there is nothing that can be said to ease your pain. I wish you and Jessica’s family all the best.

  • kimmywink

    Oh, Seth. I cry, get mad, and cry more. I f*cking hate cancer. xo Kim in PDX

  • Rebecca

    Thank you for sharing your journey with us, through to the end. My own sister is a stage 3 cancer “survivor” and I am beginning to wonder what that really means. I am inspired by Jessica and all of you to begin recording all our family and friend experiences if there is any way it can help lighten others path on this long, dark road with some kind of hope. Blessings on all of you as you grieve your loved one. Namaste, Rebecca Sent from AOL Mobile Mail

  • Angelin

    Dear Seth,

    I am really sorry for your loss. I came across this blog last year when my aunt was diagnosed with stage 4 NSCLC with ALK+ mutation. She is undergoing medical treatment for LDK 378, just like Jessica was. Jessica has been such a source of inspiration for her strength and courage. I am all the way on the other side of the world (Indonesia), but I cannot feel anymore closer to you and Jessica’s family. My thoughts and prayers are with you always.

    -Angelin

  • Sahra

    My sympathies to Seth, Jessica’s family and all those close to her. I found her blog while laid up with a severely broken ankle and while my own recovery is assured I can relate to many of the challenges Jessica faced. The sheer effort it takes to do simple things like get up and use the bathroom and having to use gimp carts (affectionately named by my husband) in stores and most of all just needing to be so reliable on someone else. Seth you are also an inspiration. While we got to follow Jessica’s story yours was also being told in a quiet way and I can only imagine the trials and tribulations you had to endure while caring for the person you loved. My condolences and I wish you all the best.

  • robin

    I am so very sorry to read of Jessica’s passing. She was truly inspirational and will continue to be, for many. My boyfriend passed under similar circumstances (brain mets) after a 5 month battle with what they believe was lung cancer (long story). We too were fighting for time and they are making breakthroughs every day. Unfortunately, we did not get it. So it was with great excitement and support that I followed Jessica and wished nothing but the best for her. Her story will continue to provide hope for many I’m sure. She was a warrior. My thoughts and prayers are with you all during this difficult time.

  • Tori

    Thank you, Seth, for sharing this. I looked up to Jessica a lot, and reading her blog helped me so much. I hope you can find your way to healing your heart. May she rest in peace.

  • Linda

    I am so sorry. I hope you will find strength and peace in the days to come.

  • Mary Ruggiero

    Thank you Seth. Thank you for finishing the chapter and Thank you for being Jessica’s rock and soulmate. As a caregiver, I know you have suffered as deeply and in different ways. Following Jessica’s courageous journey has been such a profoundly positive and powerful experience for me. I am honored to have been invited to follow her blog and provide her what little support I could. She touched so many in her too short life. She will be remembered for her tenacity and resilience and leadership. She fought a good fight and in the process, created a community and moved the needle on treatment outcomes. We love you for everything you have done for her. Please know we are all here for you and will keep her legacy alive in our hearts.

  • Moving Through | Aquarius vs. Cancer

    […] has me in a tizzy is the loss of my sweet, sweet friend Jessica.  Clearly, she’s had an impact on many of us with lung cancer from the number of bloggers […]

  • Jordi Tauler

    Hi Seth,

    First I want to say that I am really sorry about Jessica. I’ve just started using Twitter on the account of our project, Innovation Cancer Research, and I had the opportunity to discover Jessica’s tweets and blog.
    I think her efforts and her impact on raising awareness on lung cancer were unbelievable.
    We are researchers and we work in the lab under very nice and clean conditions and it is easy to forget that what we do is closely related to somebody’s disease and pain. Over these years I have been working on lung cancer in a cold way. Trying to understand the mechanisms of action of particular protein. We’re so focus on keeping track on our career that we don’t see beyond the next paper and the next grant publication.
    After reading Jessica’s blog things can not be the same anymore and her writing is beyond the idea that I want to push that scientists have to be more aware that we need to work on the cure more than on our career. Research is difficult and funding, specially on lung cancer, is tight. But this not an excuse to lose focus and we should always remember that in each project we work there is, behind, somebody that suffers.
    At this point, our little organization, that we are building to change the way things are done in cancer research is at a very early stage. We should get registered as non-profit by the State of Illinois in the next couple of weeks. Paperwork has been submitted.
    I only wanted to ask you one thing. In the future, hopefully soon, would you, and Jessica’s family, agree to have the name of Jessica in one award from Innovation Cancer Research for a project on lung cancer? If you don’t like the idea we totally understand and please forget about this e-mail. We think this could be another way to honor Jessica’s life and contribution to raise awareness on lung cancer and lung cancer stigma.
    There is no rush for it. I understand that those are difficult moments and this is the last of your priorities.
    We are not ready yet for this. It is just an idea.
    Best regards,

    Jordi Tauler

    • Seth

      Jordi,
      Thank you very much from the bottom of my heart for the kind words, and of thinking of Jessica. I couldn’t think of a better tribute someone could do. I will send you my contact info in a separate email.

      -Seth

  • Glynis Joan

    Dear Seth, I am a complete stranger but I have C I am so very sorry for the loss of your beautiful Jessica, your loving words spell out your true and wonderful passion for your one great love may she be forever now your guide, your strength to go on in her name. Blessings

  • ciscoadler

    To all reading this blog. You can honor Jessica the most by continuing her earnest fight against cancer. I miss my sister so very much, however I am comforted reading how she helped people. Carry on her tradition and never ever give up. I love you girl.

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