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Meet singer Jess Roberts. Originally from New Martinsville, West Virginia, 37-year-old Roberts now resides in Morgantown where she lives with her fiance, Brian, and beloved daughter, Breannyn Grace. Jess has been singing professionally since the age of 18 and has toured all over the US with countless amazing musicians including the legendary Bo Diddley. Jessica has been in many bands and currently shares lead vocals in a local band ‘The Virgins‘.
In late summer 2012, Jess Roberts began working out to cardio DVDs with her best friend, Leah Ann. The pain in her abdomen started shortly after that. She went for a check up and in August 2012, and doctors discovered a tumor. She was diagnosed with cervical cancer. At first she broke down, having already lost her grandmother and her father to cancer. Then, she just did what she had to do. Her mother Rita was amazed at her strength and tenacity, marveling that though Jess was so sick, she never missed singing at a show.
Jess endured two years of chemotherapy and radiation treatment, supplementing the intense therapy by vaporizing with cannabis daily. “It was the only thing that helped take away her nausea. It gave her an appetite and kept her stress levels down. It was better than any prescription drug that her doctors were prescribing,” her mother told Ladybud Magazine. She recently received word that the cancer was in remission but the time for celebrating was not at hand, however. As a result of her cancer treatment, she got what many people who receive cancer treatments located in the abdominal region develop — radiation enteritis.
According to the National Institute of Health, radiation enteritis can cause the intestinal lining to become thick with scar tissue and cause a litany of extreme discomfort that affects the patient in undesirable ways. For Jess, this means she can barely keep food in her system, that even nutritional supplement drinks like Ensure are not able to stay in her system long enough to have an effect. She compares the pain to childbirth except the contractions in her intestines do not come and go. If she eats one bite of food, she has what feels like one long contraction that lasts 6 to 8 hours. When she fasts, it’s not as severe but the pain is still strong enough to keep her fully engulfed in suffering. She loses an average of one pound per day. For someone who has a 6 ft. frame and was 155 lbs., she is losing weight remarkably fast and is now down to 115.
Next Wednesday, Jess and her family are traveling down to Florida for treatment of the radiation enteritis at Clear Passage Physical Therapy, where she will be undergoing a procedure called the Wurn Technique, a non-invasive and non-surgical procedure that “can feel like a deep stretch; other times, the work can be very light…depending on the diagnosis and treatment area; the therapist may work to improve motility, or subtle organ movements. Other times, the therapist may ask the patient to flex large muscles or move in certain ways to improve the body’s symmetry and function” according to the facility’s website.
This treatment is not an option for Jess and her family, it is a necessity. Cancer did not kill her and she fought so hard for her daughter, Breannyn Grace, to be able to watch her grow up. Now 7, Bree plays piano, guitar and sings just like her mommy. She has even shared the stage with her from time to time since she was 4. Breannyn is Jessica’s reason for everything — especially for her fight right now. In 2002, Jess and her daughter’s father, Brian, planned to marry after they finished building their dream home but Jess became ill. She hopes to someday have that amazing wedding and put all of this sickness and darkness behind her, maybe even write an album.
Her family has set up a GoFundMe to help defray the costs of travel to Florida, lodging and the treatment she so desperately needs. If this story has moved you in any way, please find it in your heart to help her with this attempt to save her life, to save Breannyn Grace’s mommy.
UPDATE: Jess Roberts has gotten offers of round-trip flights but she is not able to travel given her delicate frame and having to avoid crowded places during flu season. Contracting an infection of the digestive system would likely be fatal to her. Jess’ fiance, Brian, will be making a bed for her in their car and driving her from West Virginia to Gainesville, Florida for the treatment.