Join ‘Team Jess,’ fight brain cancer
If you were asked to picture in your mind someone with brain cancer, you might think of John McCain or perhaps a small child in a pediatric cancer unit.
It is be unlikely that you would picture a 26-year-old former college athlete. And yet Northampton eighth grade math teacher and girls varsity head volleyball coach Jess Finlayson found out this summer that she has Grade III anaplastic astrocytoma.
She’s undergone two craniotomy surgeries in an attempt to remove as much of the two tumors as possible. Her radiation and chemotherapy treatments have started recently. She continues to teach and coach and hopes to be able to do so throughout the time of her treatments.
There has been widespread support for Jess’ fight throughout the Lehigh Valley. Five different high schools have held or will hold brain cancer awareness benefit events during volleyball matches. “Team Jess” bracelets not only adorn the wrists of the Northampton volleyball players, but players from rival schools have taken up the show of support as well.
The Northampton event will take place this evening in the high school gym immediately following the JV volleyball match, which begins at 5:30 p.m. A snack stand will feature healthy snacks because the links between diet and cancer. Team Jess bracelets will be for sale, as well as T-shirts which say, “Team Jess – No one fights Alone”. Gray is the color of brain cancer awareness, so everyone who comes is encouraged to wear a gray shirt in support of the cause.
Brain cancers receive little attention relative to other forms of cancer. While survival rates have improved dramatically for many other types of cancers, the survival and mortality rates for brain cancers have changed very little over the last 30 years. This can be attributed to the lack of different ways to treat brain tumors. There are only four FDA approved drugs and one device that have been developed over the last three decades for use in treating brain tumors.
If you want to offer words of encouragement and receive updates on Jess’ fight, you can go to the following site that her team has set up - www.caringbridge.org/visit/teamjessfinlayson
For more information about brain cancer, go to the American Brain Tumor Association, www.abta.org, or the National Brain Tumor Society, braintumor.org
To learn about the unique challenges facing young adults diagnosed with cancer, go to www.stupidcancer.org.