Jessye (14) was diagnosed with cancer at just eleven months old. Following the unexpected death of her father, who tragically passed after a motoring accident, Jessye was taken to a specialist when her mum, Trish, noticed a reflective growth forming in her left eye. By the following week, Jessye was undergoing intensive surgery to remove a large, cancerous tumour from her retina. There was no talk of saving the eye: to save Jessye’s life surgeons had no choice but to remove her eye completely.
During the initial consultation with the eye specialist, it was also discovered that Jessye’s other eye had been infested with small tumours. So, following the invasive surgery and removal of her left eye, Jessye immediately began chemotherapy to treat her right eye.
“We were numb with shock,” recalls Jessye’s mum, Trish. “There was so much that was unknown in front of us.”
Watch Jessye's story
Three separate courses of chemotherapy over four years, a five-week daily course of radiation (directly to her head) and countless trips to the specialist later, heartbreakingly the treatment was deemed unsuccessful in saving Jessye’s sight, leading to the removal of her right eye. Although this meant that Jessye was now completely blind, the cancer had finally been removed from her young body.
While medical treatment for Jessye was the first priority, feeling connected was critical for the whole family. That’s where Camp Quality stepped in. Taking not only Jessye, but her brothers, James and Thomas, on trips away where the focus was on fun and laughter, not cancer.
“We were introduced to Camp Quality right after we’d just completed treatment,” said Trish.
“We were allowed to forget normal worries and anxieties and simply have fun together and with other families. We had the opportunity to meet families in similar situations to ours, and share our stories. This kind of connection is vitally important and truly helped sustain us through incredibly challenging times.”
Today, Jessye lives in South Australia with her mum Trish, brothers James and Thomas, and stepfather Bruce. Being blind has not prevented Jessye from living life to the fullest. Being an avid horse rider, tandem bike rider and classical singer, Jessye is an embodiment of optimism and resilience.
In May 2016, Jessye decided to embark on her next challenge, Camp Quality 1,000 Ks 4 Kids Ultimate – South Australia, riding on a tandem bike from Geelong to Glenelg to raise funds for Camp Quality so that they can continue to support kids living with cancer.