Jessica Cashman carries on her mother’s fight against breast cancer.
Twenty-seven years after losing her to breast cancer, Jessica Cashman is still astounded by her mom’s fighting spirit.
“I was 17 when my parents told us about Mom’s diagnosis. What they didn’t tell us is that her prognosis was to live for only one year. My mother didn’t accept that. She said, ‘No, I am not leaving in a year, so I am not telling my daughters that!’ And she didn’t. We got four extra years with her because of her fight.”
Jessica’s mother not only refused her prognosis, but also refused to be limited by her illness. While undergoing treatment, she made significant lifestyle changes on her own. It wasn’t as easy to find organic food in the 1980’s, but Debbie found a way. An active and involved mom, she was not going to miss any fun with her daughters or friends. She demanded that doctors lengthen her IV tube (required at times for continuous medicine) so that it wouldn’t interfere with her golf swing. Jessica firmly believes that this passion for family and friends fueled Debbie’s fighting spirit.
“I look back at her journey — how she survived and her treatment. Compared to today, there’s such a difference in breast cancer treatment. What my mom went through feels almost medieval in comparison. We’ve come so far, but yet, still have so far to go.”
Despite all the progress in treatment,one in eight women will still be diagnosed with invasive breast cancer in the US this year. Those statistics don’t sit well with Jessica, who unsurprisingly shares her mother’s passionate drive.
“I think about my mother every day. It was devastating and heartbreaking. You don’t ever get over it. But you do get through it.”
Years of grieving and the birth of her own daughter propelled Jessica to research and become involved with a breast cancer organization. She didn’t just want to write a check — it was very important to Jessica to find a group where she could have a direct impact.
Jessica’s experience of losing her mother to breast cancer is one shared by the founders of The Lynn Sage Foundation. Their local Lynn Sage Scholars program was a particularly important element to Jessica’s involvement. She didn’t hesitate.
“I’m passionate about giving back to this incredible pursuit of finding the cure for breast cancer. It took a long time and a lot of healing before I could get involved. But being part of this now brings me closer to my mom. Knowing that I’m doing something beyond awareness. That we’re actually getting funds for scientists to conduct their research brings me closer to her.”
After participating on the Lynn Sage Foundation board for four years, Jessica has seen her fair share of lab tours and scientific research presentations. It never gets old.
“The Scholars tell us all the time how much our grants mean to them. Their gratitude and passionate drive are amazing. They are so thrilled about what they can do with our funding. The grant process through the government is often quite difficult, so we truly know how impactful it is for them to receive funding from The Lynn Sage Foundation.”
As grateful as the Scholars are, Jessica is equally grateful for the opportunity to make a difference.
“I cannot say enough how honored I am to be part of this incredible organization. For everyone directly involved, I think we feel equally valued for our input, time, talents, and contributions. I have a strong sense of ownership and investment in the success of the Lynn Sage Scholars program.”