Jessica Brown: Fighting as a Young Mother

In October for Breast Cancer Awareness Month, Jessica Brown shared with the V Foundation her story of her battle with breast cancer. She wrote a blog about her journey, something she had done many times before. This Mother’s Day, Jessica spoke again with the V about her journey through cancer as a young mom with two children.

When Jessica Brown received a phone call from her radiologist in 2016 her world froze. That call led to a breast cancer diagnosis, and later learning that she was BRCA2 positive. A million questions came to her mind about her health, the diagnosis and what came next.

One of her greatest concerns? Her two little boys – 3-year-old Asher and 9-month-old Dylan. How could she do it?

Jessica will be the first to tell you she’s not one who likes to accept help. A self-described “very feisty, small and mighty, 5-foot-1 person”, Jessica took the attitude of, “I don’t have time for this, I have two beautiful boys to raise,” during her battle.

But when faced with cancer, it takes a village. She had to let her guard down and her community really helped her whole family throughout their battle.

“I did the best I possibly could,” Jessica said. “When I was up, I was out there. I was at school and driving them around. When I was down, we called the forces. It was something that I never wanted, but something you learn with cancer is you have to learn to ask for help because if you try to do it all yourself you will fail.

“I wasn’t going to try to be more Superwoman than I was already trying to be. I wanted to be there because those were precious moments that were fleeting at the time. I was so fortunate to have those times with my kids, even if there was somebody behind me making sure I didn’t collapse.”

When everything in the world around her was shaking, Jessica’s mom, Miriam, served as her rock. She was the first person called, and was her greatest supporter.

“I don’t think I would be here if it wasn’t for the strength she bestowed upon me to be able to go forward with my life. She’s the only reason I got through it. Without her support and guidance, I think I would have been in a very different place.”

Miriam was with Jessica every step of the way. She took her to doctors’ appointments, sat with her through hours and hours of treatment, assisted in daily life, cared for and loved her grandchildren, took Jessica and her youngest to baby classes, and more. She was there. She kept her going.

“I’m so fortunate to have had such a strong inspiration in my life to be able to be there for my kids personally and make sure my kids are loved and will always be loved how I have been my whole life,” Jessica said.

“It was a terrible, crappy journey. But I knew I had to wake up and be there every day for my kids. I remember going through it and not being able to have the energy to get to my little one’s gym class. I needed help taking him places and my mom was there with me every single day.”

This May marks seven years since Jessica’s diagnosis. The anniversaries are always hard as they bring up a lot of intrusive thoughts and difficult moments, but some good memories are made from hard times, too.

“In a strange way, I miss those times of being with my mom all the time. As time goes on, you forget. I’m thankful to God to be healthy and here, but it is little moments that are special to have had and look back on. That was such a special time, being with my mom again, as a mom myself.”

Today, Jessica’s battle can sometimes seem like a past life. It’s hard to imagine hard times when our natural tendency is to push them further and further into the back of our minds. But knowing how hard she fought will never leave her. “I look back and the further we go, you forget, and you can’t actually believe you have gone through such an incredible journey of life.”

Her journey brought many dark days, some more emotional than physical, but the best medicine was her children.

“I told myself, ‘You can have your moment. You can have your day. But get yourself up and be there for your kids because they need you and you need them.’ Being around them was the best remedy, even on days I didn’t feel it. I had to be there for my family.”

Asher and Dylan are now nearing 11 and 8, respectively, and they don’t fully know or remember everything their mom went though. As they get older, they are starting to learn more about their mom’s battle and still have a lot to learn.

“I do not shy away from the word cancer,” Jessica said. “They need to know in time what it is. I’ve talked to my older one about how I had cancer, and his eyes lit up. Then I said, ‘You know I’m okay.’”

Soon, Jessica’s boys will see her even more as Superwoman, just as Jessica sees her mom.

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