My Second Day of Senior Year…Until Now


Gabriella Jamerson, Foreign Correspondent

I watch as my mom makes a U-turn towards me in her large black Yukon, the scratches my nephew drew with a rock still on the doors from this summer. I get into the front passenger seat. Already I can hear my nephews and niece in the backseats. One is busy watching a movie on the car monitor, the younger two are competing to be the loudest. My mom watches them while my sister works. Right now my older brother Albert, and my older sister Jessica, are in San Diego. We found out yesterday Jessica had to have surgery to remove a cyst, so my brother flew to San Diego to help afterwards since she is stationed there.

I love my sister but she over exaggerates pain and discomfort. So it’s no surprise she’s being seen again. My mom asks me how my day went. I don’t have the energy to explain how much I wish I could move back to San Diego and go to school with all my friends. I don’t want to be here. So I tell her it was okay. My mom has been waiting hours to hear how it’s going with my sister.  Her surgery was supposed to start before noon and only last an hour and a half. It’s been closer to four hours and there’s been no update. My mom decides she’s going to take us to get ice cream to distract herself.

As we start heading towards the corner of Camino Seco and Speedway to make a u-turn, my mom gets a call.  It’s Albert. He has Jessica’s doctor with him. The doctor keeps telling us how unexpected this all was. What was unexpected? What did they find? No one is understanding him. As my mom makes a U-turn the doctor finally tells us. Cancer. My mom goes white. She pulls into the closest empty dirt spot near the road and gets out. She looks like she can’t breathe. I don’t think any of us can.
“We went in laparoscopically and immediately had to stop and open Jessica up. I had to vertically cut her abdomen open from her pelvic bone to under her breasts. She was completely filled with tumors. None of us had any idea. I’ve called everyone to come down and help me remove as much as possible but unfortunately we can’t remove all of it without risking her quality of life. They are currently still trying to remove as much as possible.” His words echo through the car. My mom still trying to catch her breath. The doctor goes back to finish the surgery. The surgery that was only supposed to be under 2 hours that turned into 10. My sister still under and has no idea what she’s going to wake up to. Having her body opened wide and her insides removed and moved around. She went in for a cyst and will come out with only a few years to live at the best. The organs that get to remain were scraped clean of tumors. Now knowing that the grapefruit sized cyst was in fact a tumor so large it can’t be taken out of her pelvis.

She will have to start chemotherapy once she recovers and her cancer is known for being resistant. Her doctor said it’s already at the late stages.
My mom gets back in the car. Takes a deep breath and drives us home in silence.

Today is only my second day of senior year.

It has been almost 9 months since my second day of my senior year. The school year is almost over and I couldn’t be more relieved. My time at Sahuaro High School has been one of the worst experiences I’ve been through. Some teachers shaming me for being absent because I go to see my sister who has had many close calls. It was hard having teachers that didn’t take the time to notice and ask if anything was going on, but assume I was slacking as though I didn’t care about school. Many students at Sahuaro have made racist remarks, some even saying these comments loud and proudly as if this behavior was okay. Other than new friends I made giving me the motivation show up and making it somewhat bearable to attend, I wish I could have transferred or not started school here at all.

My older sister is getting worse each day. She is still recovering from all her surgeries. In the beginning she had over 40 clusters of tumors throughout her body with most having grown back and her entire reproductive system and omentum removed. She was retired from the
Navy and moved back home with us. Jessica now spends most of her time in her bed or using a walker to get around the house. She has lost the ability to walk most days or care for herself. There are now cords coming out of her lower back to help empty her kidney into a bag. It has been so hard to watch her slowly become less and less of the person she once was.
The only positive to come from this year was when my brother and his wife had their first child! I am already an aunt to 2 girls and 4 boys from my sister and from my oldest brother but this was different somehow.
He was the rainbow after the storm for us.
My family had become so saddened from Jessica being sick that when my baby nephew arrived, we cried tears of joy. Being in the hospital for something beautiful rather than waiting to hear more bad news, baby Devon Jamerson Jr was born November 9th, 2019, 4 weeks early. He was so tiny that even preemie clothing was slightly loose on him. He is now 5 months old and just looking at him you wouldn’t be able to tell he was once in preemie clothing. He is my light during this dark school year.