ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (WFLA) – 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!”