Just a couple of years ago, Jess Roberts seemed to have it all.
Her life included a singing career, a loving and devoted fiance, a daughter between the two of them, and a dream home in the works. However, in just several months time, Roberts learned first-hand how quickly life can take a turn that put her in a battle for life itself.
Yet, Roberts also learned that no matter how many miles away from home you might be, home never quite forgets you. Her family, friends, and fans have joined together to help her in this fight.
Pictured is Jess Roberts prior to her cancer diagnosis. Roberts hopes to be back onstage very soon.
Roberts had moved around the United States with her parents while growing up, but she planted her roots in New Martinsville during her high school years. However, at the age of 17, she dropped out of high school to pursue her singing career. She ended up making very impressive strides on that front, playing with bands such as Rusted Root, Blues Traveler, and members of the Grateful Dead. She also did backup for Bo Diddley. "I've lived a very full life in a very short period of time," she explained.
Roberts actually met her now-fiance, Brian Teets, when she was on tour at the age of 23. "We've been together ever since," she states. "We toured all over the east coast for about a year, and when that was done, we started building our dream house in the mountains of West Virginia." Roberts and Teets had a child-a daughter, Breannyn.
However in September 2012, Roberts received the horrifying and heartbreaking news that she had cervical cancer. Cancer isn't something that is foreign to Roberts' family.
"My grandmother, my father, and my grandfather have all died from cancer," Roberts explains. "I'm the youngest one in my family to have developed cancer, and it was found when I was 35."
Defeat wasn't something that Roberts was even considering though. "I have a seven-year-old daughter," she explains. "I have to be here to watch her graduate and get married."
A radical hysterectomy was done, but Roberts also had to stay in the hospital for days because of seven different pockets of infection in her body. However, "They released me and told me they removed all the cancer. They left my ovaries but reassured me they looked absolutely fine."
Three months later Roberts went to a different hospital where it was discovered that she had a grapefruit-size tumor piercing one of her ovaries, her colon, and her bladder. "They immediately started on this intense regimen of chemo and radiation," Roberts states. "I was on chemotherapy and radiation for nine weeks, five days a week . . . "
Roberts stayed strong though. Miraculously, she still managed to tour throughout the course of her treatment. "I didn't miss one single show," she explains, adding that she climbed Seneca Rock the day after she finished her treatment. "I climbed that mountain all the way to the top," she says. "As I sat on the highest peak I could reach, with tears soaking my face, I smiled into the sun and realized I had just created a miracle."
"My train of thought was . . . when I look back, how do I want to remember the treatment? Do I remember the poison, the machines, the needles, the doctors, and the pain? Or do I remember that I climbed a mountain at the end of it all. I chose the mountain."
Sadly, Roberts' fight wasn't over with the clean bill of health, cancer-wise. Roberts explains that she ended up developing internal burns from the radiation, which then led to adhesions (internal scarring), which then led to bowel obstructions. Roberts described her intestines, at some points, as being about the size of "the opening of a ball-point pen." She adds, "It takes six to 12 hours for a bite of food to go through my system." Roberts was already a slender 150 pounds for her six-foot-tall frame; however, she ended up dropping to an alarming 115 pounds because of these complications that affected her digestive system.
"I honestly believe she would have either starved to death or have had repetitive surgeries until nothing was left," states Roberts' mother, Rita Burnside. "She was referred to a digestive disease specialist by her oncologist after her cancer was gone. She was told by the specialist that there is nothing they can do for her and were referring her to the surgeons. From our own research, we knew there would be endless surgeries, repairing the damage from each previous surgery. Either that or the infection would take her."
Roberts began searching online to literally save her life. "I searched for everything . . . I searched 'bowel obstructions due to radiation,' and 'bowel obstructions due to Crohn's disease.'" This is where Roberts found Clear Passage.
Roberts shared the information on Clear Passage with Burnside. "We were still waiting for her PET results, and it was impossible to make any plans until we knew if the cancer was gone," Burnside explains. "She was in pain and had trouble eating, but was drinking green juices to keep up her strength while she was waiting to heal from all the radiation . . . The radiation burned her very badly . . . inside and out. The PET scan showed she had adhesions throughout her intestines."
Roberts' pain became unbearable, and she became weaker and weaker. But fortunately, a trip to the chiropractor brought relief from her back pain and also opened her eyes to the healing powers of massage. Burnside explains that the chiropractor referenced a masseuse in Morgantown, W.Va., whose healing touch his own wife swore by.
An appointment was made, and Burnside explains that "after spending over two hours with this amazing woman, Jessica sat in the car and cried from relief . . . She was able to eat some that day."
"At this point, we started researching Clear Passage because if Jessica was able to get this relief from this, imagine what they could do when getting rid of adhesions was their specialty?!" Cross explained that Clear Passage has a 100 percent success rate. "No patients have had to have surgery on their intestines after this therapy . . . Of course we had to try this!"
Unfortunately, at this point, Roberts and her family had extinguished all of their financial resources. Burnside explains that their initial plan was to start a few fund raisers and "do a lot of yard selling in the spring."
However, Roberts' condition was deteriorating quickly and she was being taken to the emergency room to receive fluids and to treat her extreme pain. "The last time she was admitted, it felt as if they really didn't know what to do," Burnside says. "Her heart was getting weaker and they wanted to put a tube in her nose."
However, a finding from a friend gave the family hope: "The next thing I know, someone sent a link to www.gofundme.com and from there, it's just been nuts." Burnside explains that $7,000 had been raised in seven days for Roberts' treatment, food, gas, and lodging. "Clear Passage was extremely helpful once they knew her situation and was able to get her into their main facility in Gainesville, Fla." Roberts explained that the closest Clear Passage is in Washington, D.C.; however, they could not get her admitted until the end of March.
The first day at Clear Passage, Roberts noticed a difference. However, "My stomach went through a frozen spasm . . . the most ungodly pain I ever felt . . ." This specific spasm set Roberts' back a bit in terms of coming home, and she has had to spend more time in Florida; however, she is expected to be back in West Virginia today.
Aside from the first spasm, Roberts has seen nothing but success from her visit to Clear Passage. And ironically, the Wurn technique, which is the massage technique being used on Roberts', was developed because of circumstances very similar to Roberts'.
Roberts explains, "Larry Wurn developed this technique for his wife. . . She had cervical cancer, same as mine, 20 years ago. She had radiation, same as me. She developed adhesions . . . same as me. Her husband was a contractor, just like my fiance." Roberts explains that the Wurns went to India for a trip. During this time Wurn's wife's obstructions got so bad that she had to be taken by helicopter to New Dehli Hospital in India, where she stayed for three months. "She came home, and Larry, at the end of his rope, focused on her healing." Wurn developed the massage therapy that breaks adhesions from whether it be obstructions to infertility.
"Clear Passage not only helped with Jessica's spasms. They taught her and Brian how to work on the spasms," explains Burnside. "She's had to work very, very hard to endure a lot of pain, but she's so determined to beat this, as she did the cancer . . . It will be ongoing work also. She's learning how to keep the adhesions from coming back, and she's learning dietary help for that also."
Roberts' expresses excitement when explaining that she was able to order a pound of crab legs since beginning therapy at Clear Passage. She explains that she ordered crab meat after researching that it would be the easiest on her stomach. And after noticing no negative side effects from the meat, Roberts then drank an entire glass of juice she made. "I slept for seven hours straight," she says. "I'm getting better so fast!"
And actually, it doesn't even seem to be Roberts' amazing story of her own strength that she wants to share. Instead, Roberts wants to share her story in hopes of helping another who might be able to benefit from alternative therapy. "My goal, within the next five to 10 years, is to open an office in our area," she explains. "I was almost dead until I came to Florida three days ago. I have new faith to be here."
Roberts also plans to collaborate with her daughter to help other children: "We want to write books for kids that touch on touchy subjects that affect children, including cancer, diseases, loss, overcoming hard realities as opposed to "fairy tales" which teach our kids unrealistic versions of life," she states. "We will be very delicate and will find a way to teach children that it's okay to grieve, to cry, and to hurt, but they can and will overcome in the end-laughter through tears!"
"It all still feels like a dream in so many respects," Burnside says of her daughter's fight. "I need to see her and hold her to feel that this is all real."
She adds, "And the response from everyone is so unbelievable! I never dreamed we would raise all the money . . . and so quickly! Several people called and tried to tell us that it was a scam-Clear Passage and Go Fund Me-but they couldn't have been more wrong. Both organizations went above and beyond to help us get the money quickly and get her the help she needed."
For more information on Clear Passage, check out www.clearpassage.com/
To help Jess, check out www.gofundme.com/savingjess
"I want to thank everyone who has helped us make this happen," Roberts' fiance adds. "I'm amazed by the love and support shown by friends, family, and strangers who I've never met, but now consider friends. Thank you all for saving the love of my life and my daughter's mother."