Real People, Real Stories

Mediastinal Lymphoma survivor

Jessica Hecht

“’Stay strong, be positive, and above all have faith,’” are the words that I said over and over to myself,” says Jessica. “It has been almost a year and a half since my life changed forever. Now every morning I thank G_d for letting me be a part of each day.”

Jessica shares, “My story goes back 3 weeks before my wedding when I started to feel like I had swollen a potato stuck in my throat. I also started feeling a weird pressure in my chest and I started thinking that maybe I had too much stress as my job was quite demanding, and that the chest pain I was feeling was due to anxiety. I decided to quit my job and focus on my upcoming wedding. I went to my boss and with a sad feeling explained that I was not feeling well and I wanted to quit my job for the reasons I just mentioned. He was extremely nice and since I was getting married he told me to quit after my wedding and honeymoon, so that being unemployed didn’t add to my stress.”

A few days later, Jessica was still feeling bad so she went to a Fast Care facility where they told her she had a respiratory infection. She said they gave her a bunch of pills and said she would be fine in a few days. They did not run any tests. That night when she got home, she asked her boss if she could take two days off because she needed sleep. “March 14. I woke up with a sharp pain in my chest. I woke my future husband up and I told him that I want to go to the ER. He was surprised since I am a very healthy person. In my mind, I wanted to go to the ER so they could give me stronger pills and then I could go enjoy my two relaxing days off. I had an X-ray and a CT scan and then the doctor came back and told us to please sit down… and that is when we got the news. YOU HAVE CANCER.”

Jessica was in complete shock. “The moment the doctor told me I had cancer, it was 8:00am which means time for breakfast. I told him that I needed to go out and eat some chocolate chip pancakes and would be back. The doctor was surprised at my reaction but he did not stop me. I must say those where the most bitter sweet pancakes I have ever eaten.”

When she returned and was able to process the news, it was then that her weeks no longer had days, time did not matter and her life had changed forever because that day became the 1st day of her cancer fight. “I called my parents in Quito-Ecuador and that day they came to Miami. When I was at the hospital in Miami the doctors told me that they couldn’t find a doctor that was willing to do the biopsy since they had not seen this type of cancer before. Through a friend, I got the email of a doctor from MD Anderson in Houston who happened to be a lymphoma doctor and since I had Primary Mediastinal Lymphoma, he agreed to see me.” I was very blessed because I had my husband and parents with me the whole time I was here in Houston for treatment.

In a way, I’m thankful to have gotten cancer because I was able to meet wonderful inspiring heroes throughout my journey. I learned early in life to appreciate everything and everyone. She did put her wedding on hold until after treatment, and is now celebrating her (1 year?) wedding anniversary. Jessica recently became a CanCare volunteer so that she can share hope with others who are diagnosed with lymphoma.

“CanCare has motivated me because it has allowed me connect with a family of survivors filled with faith and optimism. We are united because we share the knowledge that nothing is impossible with HOPE.”

CanCare has been serving people with cancer since 1990.  All services are confidential and free of charge.  To talk to someone surviving your diagnosis, click here.