Jessica’s Story

To know Jessica is to know her vibrant energy and adventurous spirit. Her cancer diagnosis, although emotionally and physically challenging, is a powerful testament to resilience, adaptability, and the strength of community support. At 40, Jessica exudes a zest for life that is both infectious and inspiring.

A Life of Activity and Adventure

Health, fitness and adventure have always been priorities for Jessica. As a single mother to a spirited 10-year-old daughter, she’s always on the go with activities and trying new things. Her interest in strength training was inspired by a desire to conquer the monkey bars alongside her daughter. Being healthy and younger than the typical ‘caution range’ for breast cancer, Jessica never imagined that serious illness would enter her life.

“Cancer and sickness weren’t really on my radar,” Jessica recalls. The discovery of a lump in her breast came as a shock, especially when she was already dealing with the physical discomfort of kidney stones. It was a whirlwind time of hospital visits and surgeries, but in an unexpected way, the kidney issues facilitated a quicker diagnosis and treatment for her cancer.

Shock and Swift Action

When Jessica found out about her cancer, she was already navigating the healthcare system due to unrelated kidney stones. The timing helped her secure a quick diagnosis and start her treatment promptly. However, the logistical and emotional challenges were daunting. Being from Yellowknife, she travelled frequently to Edmonton for her treatments and the financial burden of staying at multiple Airbnbs added to her stress.

It was during this challenging period that Jessica discovered Sorrentino’s Compassion House. “I reached out because I thought, well, it’s really close to both the Kaye Clinic and the Cancer Clinic, and it can’t be worse than an Airbnb,” she says. Compassion House turned out to be much more than just an affordable accommodation. It became a sanctuary where she could process her diagnosis, heal, and connect with others going through similar experiences.

Finding Support at Sorrentino’s Compassion House

Jessica’s stay at Compassion House was transformative. Initially seeking solitude to process her diagnosis, recover from kidney surgery, and begin cancer treatment, she found solace in the tranquil environment. “It was exactly what I needed, when I needed it,” she explains. 

[Call-out quote] “When I needed solitude and comfort to process and heal, the House provided it. When I needed support, staff were there to help me get to appointments, go for a grocery run, or help with mailing items. When I needed connection, residents and staff were there to chat and laugh over a meal or art project.”

As she adjusted to her new reality, Jessica began to spend more time in the common areas, forming bonds with other residents. This sense of community was a lifeline. “It was really helpful to connect with people who were also going through it,” she shares. The connections she made with fellow residents provided a unique comfort and understanding.

One particularly memorable interaction was with a fellow guest from originally from Japan which led to a deep conversation about resilience and acceptance. They discussed the Japanese concept of “ganbare,” which Jessica translates as “you can do it, keep going, it’ll be alright.” This conversation helped Jessica embrace a new perspective on her journey—not just fighting through challenges, but also finding joy in the process.

Embracing New Adventures

Jessica’s cancer journey has brought about a subtle but profound shift in her outlook. While her adventurous nature and love for challenges remain, she now places a greater emphasis on enjoying the present moment.

“Sometimes I would get caught up in the motions of doing the most challenging things just for the sake of checking them off a bucket list,” she reflects. “I’ve come to realize that, although it’s important to challenge and push myself, it’s also about taking a step back and enjoying the process, too.”

As Jessica embarks on her next adventure with her daughter—an 8-month world tour to Europe, Africa, Australia, and Japan—we feel honoured to have been part of her journey. Her story inspires us to face challenges with courage, find joy in our journeys, and never stop exploring.