Every Day to Live

Carol Willis

“Faith, prayer and strength. You have every day to live.”

Jessie Stern was driving home when her car was rear-ended at a stop sign. The following weekend, Jessie, 69, a retired mother and grandmother from Harrisburg, Pa., began feeling pains in her abdomen. She visited her local emergency room and received an examination, which included an M.R.I. and an X-ray.

“It turned out there was nothing physically wrong with me from the car accident,” Jessie, a smoker for the past 52 years, says. But doctors noticed an abnormality in one of her lungs while looking at her scans and scheduled a biopsy. “The specialist said that I had Stage III lung cancer,” she says.

Jessie was suffering from non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC), the most common type of lung cancer, which makes up 80 to 85 percent of cases, according to the National Cancer Institute.

At first, Jessie was treated with chemotherapy and radiation, but the treatments weren’t working. So a second chemotherapy was tried, but Jessie didn’t like the way the treatments made her feel and asked to stop the treatment. Her oncologist suggested they look for a different option. After more biopsies, her doctor determined that she was a candidate for Immuno-Oncology therapy. Jessie’s doctor prescribed Opdivo.

Jessie’s friend Deborah was by her side throughout the fight, providing strength, hope, and even laughter along the way.

After a few months of receiving treatment, Jessie began to see improvement. Her tumors were shrinking.

And the latest set of Jessie’s scans have come back clear – no detectable sign of cancer.

A self-described people person, Jessie admits to struggling with depression after learning of her cancer. “I stayed strong and tried to be positive,” she says. “That, along with prayer, got me through it.”

Today, she exercises at the gym and watches her diet more than in the past. And she shares her story with other cancer patients through a support group at her oncologist’s office, believing that “It’s better to hear how to deal with cancer from someone who has experienced it.”

Now, Jessie is feeling good and looking forward to a future without cancer. “Faith, prayer and strength,” she says. ”You have every day to live.”


Built to Fight

Experiencing the benefits

Every Day to Live

Waiting for a Breakthrough