Non-smoker, 35, learns she has LUNG CANCER months after giving birth

Non-smoker, 35, who thought her back pain was due to pregnancy discovers she has stage four LUNG CANCER just two months after giving birth to her baby girl

  • Jessica Sherrie from Glendora, California, suffered severe back pain during her last trimester but thought it was a result of pregnancy 
  • The pain continued after she gave birth to her daughter, Regina, in April 2020
  • In June, she was diagnosed with stage IV non-small cell lung cancer
  • The condition is incurable but can be managed, and Jessica has undergone chemo, had physical therapy, and started on other drugs
  • She later broke her hip and needed a wheelchair, and came down with COVID-19 as well   
  • Jessica, who spent stretches unable to see or hold her daughter, said she’s been determined to ‘beat this’ so she can ‘be there for my daughter’

A 35-year-old woman who suffered severe back pain the third trimester of her pregnancy assumed, like most moms-to-be would, that it was just a common side effect of being pregnant — but months after she gave birth, she received the shocking news that her back pain had been caused by incurable cancer.

Jessica Sherrie from Glendora, California was never a smoker, so it came as quite a shock when she was diagnosed with stage IV non-small cell lung cancer last June.

But while her best hope is chronic treatment to manage the cancer longterm, Jessica told Today that she’s maintained an upbeat mentality because of her one-year-old daughter, whom she’s determined to be there for.

Scary: Jessica Sherrie from Glendora, California, suffered severe back pain during her last trimester but thought it was a result of pregnancy

Jessica’s back pain developed in the last month of her pregnancy, but while it was severe, she assumed it was caused by the pregnancy.

In April, she gave birth to a daughter, Regina, and found once the medication wore off that the back pain was still there.

Still, she attributed it to her ‘bad back,’ having undergone scoliosis surgery in 2018, and she saw a doctor, who sent her for several scans and tests. 

‘At one point the doctor brought up like “Oh it could be cancer” and I was hoping it wasn’t obviously,’ she said. ‘In the back of my mind it started creeping up like, “Oh I could have cancer.”

In June, a doctor gave her the shock of her life and diagnosed her diagnosed with stage IV non-small cell lung cancer— a particularly huge surprise, considering she had never smoked.

Jessica, whose in-laws had died of lung cancer, assumed it was a death sentence. Though it was a less aggressive type of cancer, it had unfortunately also spread throughout her body, growing tumors in her brain, spine, and hips.  

Jessica ‘freaked out’ out at the news that it was incurable.  

But her doctor, Dr. Erminia Massarelli, the director of the City of Hope Comprehensive Cancer Center’s lung cancer and thoracic oncology program, told her that there are new treatments that can help to make some late-stage cancers a more manageable illness, treating them like other chronic conditions. 

Jessica started chemotherapy first, but had bad reaction that landed her in the hospital for a month. Due to the pandemic, she had no visitors — not even her newborn baby.  

‘I was like “I’m going to beat this. I’m going to get out of here,”‘ she said. “That’s been my mentality this whole time. I have to get healthy. I have to get through this because I want to be there for my daughter.’

So she started a new chemo regimen, and also began seeing a physical therapist, who helped her get off the walker she was using.

Unfortunately, once she was off the walker she broke her hip, leaving her wheelchair-bound and unable to walk for three months. 

Managing: The condition is incurable but can be managed, and Jessica has undergone chemo, had physical therapy, and started on other drugs

Love: Jessica, who spent stretches unable to see or hold her daughter, said she’s been determined to ‘beat this’ so she can ‘be there for my daughter’

‘[Jessica] She has faced all of this with strength, determination, grace, light, and humor,’ her sister-in-law wrote

‘I wasn’t able to like carry [my daughter] and walk around the house. I’d have to be sitting down … that was a hard time for me. I just want to hold my daughter,’ she said. 

Jessica continued to do chemotherapy and was ‘staying motivated’ — but then, around holiday season, she contracted COVID-19. 

She has since recovered from COVID, and her cancer even started to improve, too.  

‘The tumors in my brain have shrunk so much that they’re microscopic, they can’t even see them and most of the tumors in my lungs are gone, except there’s just one left,’ she said.

But new tumors have grown in liver and hip, which have required her to take new drugs. 

As she continues to battle, her sister-in-law has set up a GoFundMe page, which has raised $26,672 so far.

‘[Jessica] She has faced all of this with strength, determination, grace, light, and humor,’ her sister-in-law wrote. 

Jessica did note that in the midst of her troubles, there has been one bright spot: Holding her daughter, who is now one year old.  

‘I can hold her all the time,’ she said.

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