Sunday, May 14, 2006

In memoriam: Jessica

As many people in this corner of the blogosphere know, a lovely woman named Jessica, who wrote the excellent blog Cancer, baby, has lost her battle with recurrent ovarian cancer. She was only 33, and the world's a dimmer place without this gifted writer. Jessica's muses were her wry wit, her righteous anger, her keen intellect, her poetic talent. She didn't write many posts, but when she did, they meant something. Here's a sampling of her best work:

Reflections on a Yellow Jersey: A thoughtful analysis and critique of the common media tropes of survivor worship and the claims that anyone can beat cancer if they have enough optimism and will power. Plenty of people with hope and determination lose their lives to cancer, and the conventional wisdom would have us believe that these people just didn't try hard enough. (Baloney.) The New York Times actually invited Jessica to publish this as an op-ed, I believe, but at the time she wished to preserve her medical privacy (her recurrence was not public knowledge at her workplace). Although this didn't make it into print, it's must reading for all of us.

In Which I Gear Up for the 2005 Awards Season: Another outraged yet wry response to a media portrayal of cancer; in this case, the implication that "smart" people manage to detect the disease early. Ovarian cancer, of course, eludes early detection in a most nefarious fashion, no matter how smart the patient is, no matter how well she advocates for herself.

Mixed Metaphors: An acerbically funny excoriation of the use and abuse of cancer metaphors.

Some cancer waiting-room humor.

Funny stuff about what you do with your underwear when you take it off in the examination room.

They Won't Leave Me Alone: A conversation between Jessica and her reproductive organs, which had taken up residence in jars in the pathology lab.

The "mood oglers" piece: In which Jessica flays strange men who feel compelled to say things like, "Cheer up—it can't be that bad" or "Come now, why aren't you smiling?"

Dichotomies: A heartbreaking reflection on the difficulty of being happy for someone when they attain what has eluded you. Jessica very much wanted to be a mother, but ceded her reproductive organs in her first cancer surgery, and then experienced a recurrence just when her adoption application was moving forward. Many infertile women have a tough time hearing the news that someone else is pregnant; Jessica explores the issue on a personal level.

In Sickness and in Health: A tribute to Jessica's loving husband and his tireless efforts to help her. If love alone could have saved Jessica, her husband's love would have done it. I'm so sorry for the depth of his loss.

Elsewhere in the archives, there's also poetry—of the moving variety and the biting, multi-verse limerick variety—and assorted updates, musings, venting, and so on. Jessica was a wonderful writer, so I'm sure you'll appreciate what you read in her archives.

If you want to memorialize Jessica with a donation, the National Ovarian Cancer Coalition is a group she approved of. I keep this link above my blogroll, but it never seems to show up as my readers' "out-click." I hope some of you (nudge, nudge—this means you) will make a contribution in Jessica's honor. Thank you.


JT said...

Oh, Orange. That's so terribly sad. I'm really, really sorry.

bitchphd said...

Oh no. That's terrible. What a loss.

Feral Mom said...

What sad news. Thanks for the tribute and the links to some of Jessica's best posts--and for the nudge to donate.

Anonymous said...

I am another person who was touched by Jessica's brilliant writing and am missing her today. Thank you for honoring her here.

DoctorMama said...

I'll be thinking about this for a long, long time.

Anonymous said...

oh wow. i had no idea. i used to follow her before she got sick again...and ive stumbled on your blog and read this. and so i go back and read whats been going on...and i am so completely overwhelmed with emotion right now.

she was such a good writer.