Around the world, people have been captivated by the life of a local woman fighting a life-threatening illness.
Twenty-nine-year-old Jessica Newsome is battling stage four kidney cancer but with tremendous support and contributions from thousands, family and friends and her faith in God, she is pushing through it.
“I am so grateful for everyone’s graciousness,” said Jessica. “The magnitude of love that’s been expressed to me has been amazing.”
It began in October when Jessica began having flu-like and bronchitis symptoms. In December she was treated for the flu, whooping cough and bronchitis and still could not rid of the sickness. Over the the next three months she kept pushing through the sickness and pain until she got the flu again in March and went to the hospital.
Medical tests began to steer in completely shocking new direction. Doctors told her that she had a tumor completely covering a kidney and tumors in her abdomen, diagnosing her with a kidney cancer.
“We did not in any way expect this to happen,” said Jessica. “To be 29, or any age, and to hear that is very difficult.”
After learning of the news, Jessica’s brother Chad Crowe, then started a blog for Jessica as a way for him to be a part of Jessica and to keep the public connected. After a series of tests and observing the aggressive cancer, the family decided it would be best to send Jessica to the MD Anderson Cancer Center in Texas, one of the top cancer centers in America. Her first appointment was April 25.
The trip wasn’t a cheap one, especially since Jessica’s husband, Jason, only has six months of paid leave. Crowe decided to create a fundraiser to help support her and her husband’s expenses while in Texas. The goal was set at $5,000. In minutes of the posting, people began to donate and in hours their goal had multiplied. Over $40,000 has been raised through the blog, drastically more than was expected.
“We were very shocked,” said Jessica. “I was awed at how fast people responded and how quickly they dropped what they had — financially — to help. God is doing great things in the community.
Jessica’s mother Sheila Crowe also posts on and manages the blog site. She mentioned that they have had over 41,00o views on the blog site from various countries, including Latvia, Israel and Mexico.
“It has been overwhelming and beautiful,” she said. “People gave over $40,000 just so her husband could go with her. People have stepped up just so they can be together.”
Locally, people have began various fundraisers to support Jessica’s fight. Lemonade sales, church fundraisers, T-shirt and cross sales Green’s Pharmacy in West Point, and barbecue tickets at Roger’s Bar-B-Que are being sold with a portion of the sales going to Jessica’s fund.
“That’s the good thing about being in a small community like LaGrange, it creates that intimate relationship and you don’t feel like you’re alone in this world,” said Sheila. “It’s people caring about people, people that really want to be there for each other. We are all really bonded together. This community really comes together for one another.”
Along with some financial support, Jessica is motivated by encouraging texts, emails, letters, Facebook and blog messages supporting her. Some have donated their time to mow the Newsome’s lawn, build a handicap ramp and are filling up their pantry for their return. A Dogwood tree was planted in their yard as a representation that “life is bigger and you’re going to keep living,” said Sheila.
During her more difficult days, she looks those messages and her book of scriptures for encouraging words.
“God is good and God is able,” said Jessica. “Cancer is a little c, Christ is a big C. He will conquer. And my community will get me through.”
With the optimism of those around her, she said she is continuing to live her life as she was before, wearing her makeup and pearls everyday.
“I am not going to allow something as difficult as cancer keep me down,” she said. “I’ve always been a girly- girl and worn my pearls. And I still have a lot to live for everyday.”
Little did she know, her love of pearls, posted in a blog by her mother, would start a trend. Women around the world have sent messages to the family saying that they are wearing pearls and pink in support of Jessica.
A sneaker trend has also sparked in support of Jessica. Jessica’s friend, Christy Spivey, showed up at the hospital one day as they were awaiting a biopsy, and was wearing Asics Gel Kinsei 4s sneakers while wearing a professional dress and makeup. The shoes provided comic relief to the family, and the two days later Spivey bought Jessica a pair calling them the “Kick Cancer’s Butt” shoes and told her to wear them to remember to smile, laugh and hold on to hope.
Family and friends began to buy the sneakers to be connected to Jessica. A portion of the sales go to Jessica’s battle with cancer.
Jessica said she and Jason are excited to return home from Texas Saturday to celebrate with their two daughters Savannah and Ella, along with more family and friends.
“I’m grateful with having such a great community of friends and family to do that with,” she said. “I feel like I will make great progress with those people because I’ll be with those I love and care for. There’s no healing power like home”
She will continue chemo treatments while in Georgia and report back to MD Anderson on June 19.
To keep up with Jessica’s battle with cancer, you can like the Facebook page at www.facebook.com/GetBetterJess. Updates and donations can also be made on the blogsite at http://getbetterjess.blogspot.com. Donations can also be made at Charter Bank locations.