In December 2019, my wife Jessika, was diagnosed with a brain tumour, a Grade 4 Glioblastoma Multiforme.
At 39 years old, her life expectancy dropped to just a year.
She was told by the surgeon that operated on her “there is no one in the world who can save you” and sent home after she had recovered from her first surgery.
The Glioblastoma Multiforme is the most aggressive cancer, it’s infiltrating, fast and unpredictable. Life expectancy following diagnosis is between 12 to 15 months, with fewer than 3 to 7% of people surviving beyond five years. All treatments, including surgery and chemotherapy, are considered palliative from the start, it’s a race against the clock. A race you know you’ll lose.
As soon as Jessi recovered from surgery we started walking – against fear, against pain. It kept our sanity. We would walk two to four hours daily, no matter what. From Büch to Grunewald. We got to know the outskirts of Berlin.
Day after day, life took over and we started to make plans again, we decided we would travel to Japan, to Italy. We wanted to be brave and enjoy every single moment together but then Covid happened and the reality of Jessi’s sickness caught up with us once she started her treatment.
In less than a year, Jessika had two brain surgeries, six weeks of daily Temozolomide Chemotherapy and daily radiation therapy. This is the standard first line treatment, it has barely changed in the last thirty years despite showing very little efficiency, especially for patients whose tumours are non-methylated, resistant to chemotherapy, like Jessika’s.
Jessi continued following protocol; cyclical chemotherapy of Temozolomide five days a month for a couple of months. Despite all these treatments the tumor came back in August, a week before Jessika’s 40th birthday.
She pulled through a second brain surgery, where again they removed the tumor completely and started metronomic chemotherapy, two times daily doses of chemo mixed with an repurposed medication intended to boost the immune system of the brain.The tumor came back only six weeks after the last surgery and this time it had moved to the center of the brain.
We were told that nothing more could be done.
It’s hard to be powerless and during all this time Jessika, and some of our friends, researched everything possible about the disease, even finding some promising studies, but the tumor beat us every time imposing its irrational rhythm. As time became precious, we decided to focus on living in the moment. It might be hard to believe but we had a beautiful summer with friends and family; full of love, bike trips, good food, days at the lake and beautiful walks in nature and enjoyed the indian summer in the South of France.
Jessika faced everything with so much grace and with her unique sense of humour, that I love so much. She is the strongest person I have ever known.
She was beautiful. She is my biggest love.
In accordance with Jessika’s wishes, her friends and myself, have set up a fundraising page in support of brain cancer research. If you are able, please consider making a donation.