RING THE BELL: Brave veteran mom battles cancer while pregnant, final chemo day

Hillsborough County
Veteran mother rings bell after chemotherapy

TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – It was the sound  Jessica Purcell had been waiting to hear, on a day she’s wanted for so long.

A ringing bell.

In fact, when the moment finally arrived Monday, it overwhelmed her at first .

The St. Petersburg mom was at a loss for words, left speechles. She knew exactly what it meant. 

No more chemo.

Monday marked a major miletstone for Jessica. It was her final chemotherapy treament at Moffitt Cancer Center in in Tampa after fighting a non-stop, grueling battle.

This day meant progress, allowing her to move forward to the next chapter.

“i’m beyond estacic. i don’t have enough words,” she said wih a simle as nurses cheered.. “i dont kinow how ro explain it.”

Jessica knew she had to have a strong mental game, no room for negavity.

This mother-of-two who served overseas as a Captain in the Army says her body was at war, fighting to stay healthy amidst terrifying circumstances.

It wasn’t just her life she was trying to save.

She was diagnosed with breat cancer during her ninrh week of pregnancy, then faced a painful mastectomy while carrying her son.

What happend next shattered her heart, leaving her terrified every day of her pregnancy.

If she wanted to see her son born and be there as her 21-month-old little girl grew up, doctors recommended chemotherapy. They also probvided a chilling prediction if she opted out of chemo.

Jessica knew this was a time for power, fueled bypositivity.

Her spirit was strong as she relied on faith, family, mental toughness and most of all – a good attitude.

I’ve got this, God’s got this, I will beat this, she’d tell herself while sitting through twelve rounds of chemo. I’ve got this, my little guy in my belly will be just fine, we’ve got this.

She did.

In March, she gave birth to a healthy baby boy, marking  down the days until her final treatment, knowing what was waiting at the finsih line .

The chemo bell, which rang out Monday afternoon, a tradition carried out all oer the country at hospitals and canccer centers. Jessica will soon begin daily radiation, and she knows exactly when it will end.

She also knows what she”ll do on that day – she’ll ring the bell again.

She’s aleady counting down the days til mid-summer when she completes tjhe treatment.  And, on that final day of treatment – the sound of victory.

She’ll ring the bell..

Some call it the most beautiful sound in the world.

Jessica calls it music to her ears


      IT WAS THE SOUND SHE’S WAITED FOR… ON THE DAY SHE’S WANTED FOR SO LONG.
    THAT BECAUSE WHEN THE RINGING STARTS… .. SOMETHING ELSE IS ENDING.  JESSICA PURCELL KNEW MARKING THIS MILESTONE.. MEANT ONE THING – VICTORY
    SHE SURVIVED MONTHS OF BRUTAL CHEMOTHERAPY, AFTER DOCTORS  DIAGNOSED HER WITH BREAST CANCER 9 WEEKS IN TO HER PREGANCY.
     HER BODY HAD BEEN AT WAR, AND THIS BELL BECAME HER BATTLE CRY. 
[TAKE SOT]{**SOT**}
[Notes:EDITOR= ???]
<“1:51  i’m beyond estacic. i don’t have enough words, i dont kinow how tto explaine”>
     THERE WASN’T A DRY EYE IN THE HOUSE AS THIS ST. PETE MOM CELEBERATED HER FINAL CHEMO TREATMENT, SURROUDND BY THOSE WHO SUPPORTED HER EVERY STEP OF THE WAY , ENCOURAGING HER, KNOWING THIS DAY WOULD COME  AND HER POSTIVITY AMD FAIITH – MAKING THIS  A MOMENT OF STRENTH AND JOY,,
        JESSICA CREDITS HER MENTAL TOUGHNESS TO HER MILITARY EXPERIENCE… AS A CAPATAIN IN THE ARMY, DEPLOYED MULTPLE TIMES TO DANGEROUS PLACES.
    BUT,  IT WAS HER BATTLE WITH BREAST CANCER HERE AT HOME WHERE SHE SAYS – SHE FOUGHT THE HARDEST. 
[TAKE SOT]{**SOT**}
[Notes:EDITOR= ???]
<” 3:59  its like mental war “>

    A MOMENT THIS MAMA BEAR SAYS SHE’LL ALWAYS REMEMBER – AND A BELL THAT WOULD ULTIMATELY..BE HER SYMPTHOMY OF SUCCESSS
[TAKE SOT]{**SOT**}
[Notes:EDITOR= ???]
<“3:34  You got it. keep trucking  keep fighting  “>

[TAKE SOT]{**SOT**}
[Notes:EDITOR= ???]
 

Jessica Purcell is one tough mama.

She’s a captain in the United States Army. She’s served overseas on mutiple deployments in places like Afghanistan and Qatar.

She’s faced dangerous situations before. But, it was her battle here at home with breast cancer where she found herself fighting for her life and the life of her newborn son. 

“I just knew ultimately, this is God’s will, God’s way. Somehow, some way, it will, we can do this,” she said, cradling her 5-week-old baby boy. He is her miracle.

When Jessica was 9-weeks pregnant, doctors gave her devastating news. She was diagnosed with breast cancer.

For this St.Petersburg mom who served in the military, perserverance and positivity became her ammo in battling the disease. “We got this, somehow it’s going to work out,” she said with a sigh and a smile. “Just keep the faith. Keep your hope. It’s so mental.”

Jessica would need that mental strength and toughness as she endured a mastectomy and 12 rounds of grueling chemotherapy, all while pregnant.

At the same time, she and her husband were also raising their little girl, nearly  two years-old. “Just going through chemo alone is hard, being pregnant is hard. But, going through both, I just, you would never imagine doing that,” she told us.

She explained how terrfiying it was to face chemotherapy while carrying her son. She says she sought multiple opinions from top oncologists all over the country and coupled their findings with extensive research she performed on her own. 

She says she was told if she didn’t seek chemotherapy treatment, she would most likely not survive to see her son or raise her daughter. She recalled the fear and crippling anxiety she felt wondering what her future held. 

Jessica relied on her faith, friends, family and support groups comprised of other moms going through similar circumstances.

Then, came the joyous moment. She gave birth to a healthy baby boy in March.

But, because she couldn’t breastfeed, Jessica wanted to give her little guy a boost to his immune system. A jump-start for baby Jameson.

So, she posted a plea on Facebook for breast milk. 

“I’m like, ‘Oh my goodness,'” Jessica told us with a wide grin. “This is, you know I mean. I have offers coming from around the world now, just to ship from other countires. I literally thought just the girls in St. Pete, maybe Tampa, would be a stretch.”

The mother of two says she’s still in shock that her goal went global.

For now, she’s focusing on feeding her son with donated breast milk from local moms and familiar faces. She says some moms have paid for extensive bloodwork when offering their milk, while others are close friends in which she has a history.

“It’s wonderful, it’s overwhelming. My freezer is full, I can actually feed my little guy,” she said.

Jessica says she’s pleasantly overwhelmed with the love and support she’s received worldwide. It has warmed her heart and strengthened her mama bear spirit. 

“I’m more excited than anything, I’m just so blessed,” she told us. “My little guy, he’s here, just a breath of fresh air.”

Jessica has one more final chemo treatment, then she will soon begin radiation. She says her nurses at Moffitt Cancer Center keep her going, as does her moms’ group.

“They’re angels to me!”

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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