BUCKNER, Mo. — Jessica Imler, 25, is soaking up as much time with her three-year-old daughter, Blaire — because she isn’t sure how much time she has left.
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Imler was diagnosed with stage 4 stomach cancer this year — but the journey to the diagnosis was long. She took her list of symptoms of stomach cramps, trouble swallowing and heartburn to various doctors. She was pointed to different specialists until they landed on an OBGYN oncologist to treat her for endometriosis.
That is when the cancer diagnosis came.
“They tried to tell me that I was too young, at first. They said you're too young. There's no way this is cancer,” said Imler. “It's not curable. It's not operable. The only option to extend your life is chemotherapy. And so obviously I'm doing that because I want to live for as long as I can.”
Imler is a wife and mother now fighting to watch her daughter grow up.
She has gone through more than a dozen rounds of Chemotherapy in hopes of being a candidate for a special surgery. She will visit a doctor in December to learn more about the possibility of receiving a HIPEC surgery.
As she prioritizes in her good days between treatments, so many have rallied around her. Friends and family recently held “Jessica’s Fight to Victory” — raising money for her family and her medical expenses.
“We've had random people reach out and pray for us, you know, and I had GoFundMe and people all around me were donating to it. It's just amazing how the community kind of came together to support us during this time,” said Imler.
Imler said she has discussed with her family what to do if her time is cut short — she is writing letters to her loved ones — but she isn’t close to giving up on her daughter.
“I just want her to know that I did all this for her and you know, I fought as hard as I could. That is my main goal is to fight as hard as I can,” said Imler.
Imler doesn’t have a family history of stomach cancer and said the doctors don’t have an explanation as to why she got cancer so young.
A recent study published in Jama Network Open suggested early-onset cancer is on the rise in people under 50. It found GI cancers increased by 15% among the people studied. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends getting screened for colon cancer at 45.