As a daughter, sister, dog-mom, coach, teacher and friend, Jess was known and loved by so many people. Her life revolved around her family, her Bernese Mountain dog Lexi, her boyfriend, her students, her team, and her passion - playing the game of volleyball.
Jess was "unique" - and truly one of a kind. This uniqueness of her heart and her spirit welcomed you instantly into her world. Catch a glimpse of Jess or take a photo and you would be filled with the radiance from her always present beautiful smile, as it was a reflection of her soul.
Before her diagnosis...
Jess graduated from Emmaus High school in 2010 and studied Math at Lebanon Valley College.
She played 4 years of collegiate volleyball and after graduating in 2014, she landed a
coaching position at Northampton HS and became an 8th grade Math teacher.
Jess's passion for volleyball started at age 12, and she continued to play in adult leagues
and many tournaments year-round.
In June 2018, while at her 4th Country Music festival in Nashville, Jess's trip was
interrupted when she experienced her first seizure. She came home early, had an MRI
and found out she had a tumor in her left frontal lobe. On July 12th, 2018 while in
Lehigh Valley, Jess had craniotomy surgery to remove her tumor. We found out the
devastating news that Jess had a AA3 - Anaplastic Astrocytoma grade 3 brain cancer.
Seeking treatment options, she went for consultation in Philadelphia and to our shock,
the surgeon said she needed to do another craniotomy to remove the rest of her tumor!
Jess, in her usual response to any challenge, went into the surgery on August 15th, with no fear.
Jess had strength and determination way beyond her years. She was determined to heal and continue living and went home the NEXT day after both surgeries. Jess returned to teaching and coaching and playing volleyball, resuming these activities while she did 6 weeks of radiation and 12 months of chemotherapy. During treatment, she also finished grad school and got her Master's Degree!
In December 2019, we celebrated with a "No More Chemo" party, attended by many of Jess's friends and family. As with most GBM patients, Jess received the difficult news a few weeks later. Another craniotomy was needed, as her tumor had returned and spread. So, on Feb 13th, 2020, Jess had her 3rd craniotomy. While we all prayed and held hope, waiting for post-surgery results, the news we got was not what we expected. Jess's tumor had morphed into a deadly Glioblastoma (GBM).
By the next month, the country would shut down. The Covid-19 Pandemic would forever change our world, especially those like Jess who were already fighting for their lives. As the world moved to virtual, Jess transitioned to teaching from home. 2020 was the year of "try anything" for Jess. Her Mom and Dad went to 9 different hospitals searching for better treatment options. Jess's neuro oncologist tried dozens of drugs with Jess, many causing physical and mental challenges for her. None of the drugs were actually brain cancer treatments, because she had already tried the only chemo for a GBM, which was developed over 40 years ago! We were thankful that the rest of the world seemed to be coming to a "stand still" since Jess's life had slowed down with a focus on trying to stay alive. Already compromised, she had another challenge thrown her way by getting Covid in July 2020, but Jess wasn't worried, and met it with her usual humor and determination.
As her tumor progressed, Jess faced new challenges. She collapsed at times due to excess fluid on her brain which required brain surgery on October 5th, 2020. Not to be beaten, Jess continued to teach and coach through October of 2020.
Jess lost her battle, on January 22nd, 2021, surrounded by those closest to her. We listened to her favorite country songs and her heart stopped beating during the song "Everything's Gonna Be Alright".
Jess Lives On...
Jess NEVER complained, and we know she would want us to continue her fight. We, her family and her friends continue with Jess in our hearts. The Jess Fin Foundation was established in Jess's memory, to support those with this horrible disease and to raise funds for those who do research, for those who find treatments and for those who will discover a cure for brain cancer!