Local News

Story published: 05-08-2013 • Print ArticleE-mail Story to a Friend

Jessica Tester beats cervical cancer for her two children


By Lacy Hilliard

Jessica Tester is a survivor. On May 4, 2011 she began experiencing some troublesome symptoms that inspired a trip to the emergency room. Her symptoms led doctors to perform a Dilation and Curettage (D&C) procedure.

When Jessica regained consciousness after the procedure, she was hooked up to several machines and in a considerable amount of pain. She remembered nothing of her experience and her disorientation was troublesome and confusing to her. Thankfully, the two people that proved to be her strength throughout her experience were at her bedside. Her sister, Crystal Hicks and her father Fred Dunn helped her through her unsettling wake-up experience and with their support; Jessica was able to regain lucidity. But nothing could have prepared the three of them for what would come next.

After the D&C procedure, doctors gave Jessica some difficult news. Jessica was diagnosed with stage 3b cervical cancer and so began a whirlwind of doctor’s appointments and therapies. Jessica said of her diagnosis “I was really scared. I thought I was going to die but I’m a single mother of two children and I knew that just wasn’t an option. I had to fight for my babies because I’m all they have.” Jessica began an aggressive treatment regimen of chemotherapy as well as extremely invasive internal radiation. Immediately, Jessica’s sister, Crystal stepped up to support her and proved to be her rock throughout the entire ordeal. “My sister treated my like her child. When I couldn’t take care of myself, she took care of me. She made sure I had my meds on time and because I couldn’t work throughout my treatments, my children and I even moved in with her. God truly blessed me when he gave me my sister.” Crystal, who is deathly afraid of roller coasters, told her sister “If you get through this, we will go to Dollywood and I will ride every single rollercoaster with you.”

Cervical cancer is caused by human papillomavirus (HPV). Receiving regular pap tests is the most important step in cervical cancer prevention. The test will detect abnormal cell changes that can eventually lead to cervical cancer. Cervical cancer is typically a slow moving cancer and due to an increase in awareness of the importance of preventative exams like the Pap test, the rate of cervical cancer deaths has been steadily declining. Uninsured women can receive free preventative Pap tests at the Johnson County Health Department through the Breast and Cervical Health program.

On October 6, 2011 Jessica was given perhaps the best news of her life; her cancer was in remission. “I learned so much from this experience. I was close to God before I was diagnosed but after my battle, I came to appreciate him so much more. My doctors told me my treatment regimen was going to be a long two-year process but because God is so good, I was in remission after only five months. I appreciate the little things so much more now. Just waking up and breathing is such a blessing.” Jessica said the most important thing to remember when you’re fighting for your life is to never give up and trust in God “He knows what he’s doing,” said Jessica. Jessica’s sister Crystal kept her promise and after the news of her remission, the sisters took a trip to Dollywood and rode every rollercoaster at the amusement park.

The annual Relay for Life will take place on May 17, with the survivor dinner beginning at 5:00 p.m. and additional celebrations including the lighting of the luminarias at 7:30 p.m. Please consider supporting your friends and neighbors at the Relay or by contributing to the Johnson County Cancer Support Center. Nearly every person in the United States has been affected by cancer in some way and the Relay for Life is a wonderful way to honor those that have battled cancer.