Monday, April 26, 2010

Memories and Deja-Vu Moments....

Blessings To All,

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Update on Jessica:
Jessica received a booster today. This past weekend she had to have her central catheter replaced due to problems with the line and also Dr. Cantu performed a lumbar sympathetic block on her right leg with the hope that he could isolate the nerves that are causing her pain. It was not successful, unfortunately, so we will have to try an alternate plan. Please continue to pray for Jessica and Dr. Cantu and also please pray for Devon, who had mouth surgery this past week as well and is receiving her boosters while here in Monterrey.

As I write this blog it is 5:30 PM - Mexican time and Jessica is resting after her booster. As I watch her asleep, I have to say that I am caught in a memory of times past - a "deja-vu" moment. You know the moments I speak of. They happen when you look at someone and a memory of another time or event is sparked. They happen when you hear a song on the radio, and you remember a time way back when. Sometimes those memories are full of only good things and even sometimes you long for those days gone by. Watching her sleep, she seems so peaceful, as if nothing can harm her, as if all I have to do is close my eyes and all will be OK again........

As a parent, we can all remember those times when we would watch our children asleep. As infants, we would make sure that all was well - even to the point of putting your hand to their chest to make sure all was OK and that they were breathing! As toddlers, we couldn't wait for them to fall asleep, so, as parents, we could finally get some rest! And as they grew, and became teenagers, we realized that we were just happy to see them asleep in their beds at 11:00 PM. Especially once they started to drive!

I mention this today because I realize how important it is in life to step back in time to those happy moments, to think upon them and remember them; to even sometimes long for them once again. For it is in those memories that we realize that God is such a wonderful God. That he is in control of all. That just as those memories were happy ones, that we can hope and have faith that the memories we make today and the days ahead of us will be filled with more happier than sad ones.

So, tonight, when you look upon your children as they sleep, whatever age they may be, think back and remember those days gone by, listen to those "deja-vu" moments, and hold them dear and close to your heart. And remember, when you wake tomorrow morning, to thank God for the precious gift of another day and then go out and make those memories.......

In God we Trust,
Sarah Gina (Mom to 3)*

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Thursday, April 22, 2010

10,000 Views of YouTube Video!!!

Hello to All,

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What I have learned in these days of Jessica's Journey to a better life is this:
We must trust God with our whole heart and recognize that He is the One that is in charge of our lives. That is Our Part.
His Part is to "make our paths straight". In other words, He will "smooth" out our path. He'll take care of each of those obstacles on the trails ahead of us.

God wants us to trust in Him. He knows our fears as well, otherwise He wouldn't need to assure us so often of His purposes and His presence. When we are hurt, God assures us that He cares. When we are angry, God provides wisdom and strength. When we are sad, God grants us comfort. When we are anxious, God promises to supply all our needs.

God wants us to love Him with our whole heart!

"Trust in the Lord with all your Heart.....He will make your paths straight".
Proverbs 3:5&6

Jessica is continuing in trusting God for all her needs and keeping Him always in her heart. As her Mom, I know that she is simply an amazing, strong person! I am in awe of her strength and perseverance. Even though she is fighting an infection and in pain and trying to "distract" herself in some way, she manages to be able to "help" someone else. That someone else was her sister Michelle. Jessica had received her booster yesterday and last night as I was talking to Michelle - Jessica overheard us. From my conversation she could hear that Michelle was sad and upset. She asked to speak with her. The conversation that ensued between the two sisters is one that I will never forget. Let me just say this: Jessica, with "all" that she has been going through, was telling Michelle how to find the "positive" thing in each day, even when things seem "negative". That even on our "bad" days, you can still manage to find that one "good" thing - such as the smile on our dog Molly's face! I will never forget that conversation between the two sisters. It is moments like those that make every "small" step made here seem so "big" indeed.

May we all keep God in our hearts, always,
Sarah Gina & Jessica*

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Sunday, April 18, 2010


Good morning to All,

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This is today's quote on the message board in Jessica's room:
"Challenges are what makes life interesting. Overcoming them is what makes life meaningful!" Anonymous

We all face challenges on a daily basis. When we face these challenges or sometimes even impossibilities we need to persevere and hand them over to God with the knowledge and confidence that only comes from Him.

In those times, we need to say, "Lord, I'm carrying around something I cannot handle. Please take this challenge off my hands, as only You are capable and willing. It's impossible for me, Lord, but it is as nothing to You!"

Jessica continues with her day to day challenges. She has certainly accomplished so much and come so far in this journey that began with that first step - the coma. When you look back and see how far she has come, it is so very humbling. God has truly been with her and with me as well.

The other day we had a good chuckle. As you know, with the help of the nurses we have been moving her from the bed to the nearby couch. Just the mere sight of Jessica finally out of the bed - was looked upon as a major accomplishment. The nurses were slowly streaming into the room and praising Jessica. They equate wellness with being out of the bed. We chuckled because we said that if they had a drum they would have been playing it as they entered her room. As Jessica said: "Mom, they are more excited about moving me on a couch, instead of ALL the other more momentous challenges that I have overcome, like being able to see again, eat again, no sunglasses, no headphones, no lesions currently re-appearing, I can move my left leg, etcetera...."

And she is so right. She has come such a long way. God is good.

Please pray for Jessica and her daily challenges.
Please pray for the pain to lessen.
Please pray for all people suffering with illnesses.
Please pray for Devon who is here for dental problems and boosters.
Please pray for Dr. Cantu and his unwavering commitment to Jessica.

We pray for all of you as well. May God help you all with your daily challenges!
To God be all the honor and glory and praise!

"Be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your toil is not in vain!"
I Corinthians 15:58

In God's love,
Sarah Gina (Jessica's Mom)*

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Saturday, April 17, 2010



Today is my daughter Katherine's 19th Birthday! Here is a special letter I wrote for her as a special gift from afar:

To my beloved daughter Katherine,

For as long as I can remember, I wanted to be a Mom. I thought that being a Mom would be the best thing I could ever be. Which means -- for all that time --- you were in my heart!

I loved you for all those years - even before you were born. And from the moment I discovered you were going to be in my life, I felt happy and blessed!

After all, I wasn't going to be just anyone's Mom --- I was going to be your Mom!

And I've always known - You're Someone Special!

So just in case I forget to remind you--- I feel so happy and blessed because you're in my life! And - I will always love you, because I'll always be your Mom!

Katherine, I thank God for sending you to me 19 years ago today. I cherish and celebrate this day - your birthday. I hope you always keep smiling that beautiful infectious smile that you have and that you always keep that bubbly personality! And - I hope you always know how very much you are loved, treasured, admired and adored!

Happy 19th Birthday Katherine!
I love you and always will,
Mom xoxo

"Everytime you smile at someone, it is an action of love, a gift to that person, a beautiful thing." - Mother Teresa

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Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Jessica Receives A Letter From Dr. Patch Adams!!!

Hello to all our family & friends,

Yesterday Jessica's Dad called from N.Y. to say that a Fed-Ex package had arrived for her. In the package was the following hand-written letter from Dr. "Patch" Adams, along with two specially autographed books for her. We are so honored to share it with all of you:

(You can click on the letter to enlarge it)

I want to say that we were truly very honored to meet Dr. Patch Adams and for the time that he spent talking and laughing with Jessica. We will never forget it. He is an incredible doctor and an amazing man. We will also never forget when Dr. Cantu and Dr. Adams met and their wonderful "funny" picture together! May we all try to find humor and laughter in our everyday lives, even when you are faced with struggles, challenges and pain on a daily basis. Dr. Hunter "Patch" Adams has said many times that according to medical research it is good for you to "be joyful". That "laughter" is truly the best medicine!

As Dr. "Patch" Adams travels the world, lecturing and meeting patients bedside in his "clown" attire, he once said this: "We wanted to make medicine human. When are we most human???
In Friendship................. (Dr. Patch Adams)

In friendship and Love, always,
Sarah Gina & Jessica*

Update on Jessica & Hospital San Jose:
Today Jessica will receive a booster to help her with the pain that she has been experiencing. Also, yesterday we said goodbye once again to our dear friends Fern and Cindy as they leave to go back home to Canada. Fern was here for her boosters. We also said goodbye to Elena & Isaac and their daughter Jessica. Elena was also here for a week of boosters and I have to say that they are a very special family. I presented Elena with her very own homemade "coma bear". Hers had a "heart" theme as she collects hearts and also because it was made from the "heart" for someone who is battling two foes: RSD and cancer.
Please pray for these wonderful people that we have come to know! I also heard from John & Rosemary Roach, who sent such a heartfelt message to Jessica - one that she will treasure always! Also, pray for Devon & Cathy Emmanuel who are returning as well for boosters. Devon was Jessica's "coma buddy" and so it will be so nice to see them again!
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Monday, April 12, 2010

Be Strong & Courageous...

Hola From Monterrey,

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As you know, Jessica had a procedure done the day before Dr. Patch Adams arrived. Our beloved Dr. Cantu decided to try a nerve block with an in-dwelling catheter in the right leg. For those first 24 hours it seemed like a miracle, for the pain that she was experiencing in that part of her body was almost gone. All she said she could "feel" was a very heavy leg that felt like it was in a numb tingly sleep. Sort of like how your lip feels during a dental procedure but only on a larger scale. Jessica was so "happy" and it was so evident in her face (she smiled & laughed) and even when she was brought back into her room after the procedure, she was asking to call Dr. Cantu and Dr. Luigi to tell them that the nerve block worked! It was an amazing day that was then followed by another amazing event - the visit of Dr. Patch Adams.

Unfortunately, it was not long lasting and for the past few days we have been dealing with the pain returning to the leg. Dr. Cantu has tried increasing the anesthetics that are continuously going into the catheter and also direct boluses into the catheter, but they are only temporary in giving relief. So today the plan is to remove the catheter, as it can only stay in for 3-5 days, and see what Plan B is. Please pray for Jessica as she is "discouraged". Please pray for Dr. Cantu as he formulates another strategy. Please pray for all patients who suffer with this type of pain - RSD/CRPS.

As her Mom and caregiver, I will say that I have seen a lot since I have been here in the Hospital San Jose Tec. I have seen many patients come and go and return for their boosters. I have "experienced" what they have to face and endure each day. It is not easy. In fact, no one should have to face this. But, they all find a way, somehow, to persevere. They find this "inner strength" and with the pure grace of God and the compassion and wisdom of Dr. Cantu, they forge on, and they take those "small steps"..............

With God's Love,
Sarah Gina (Jessica's Mom)*

"Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek his will in all you do, and He will direct your paths.
Proverbs 35:6
"You are my hiding place; you will protect me from trouble and surround me with songs of deliverance.
Psalm 32:7
Be strong and courageous.
Deuteronomy 31:6

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Friday, April 9, 2010


Hi To Everyone,

Yesterday was a very special day for Jessica.

Let me start from the beginning......I received a call that Dr. "Patch" Adams was coming to the Hospital San Jose Tec to deliver a speech and he was going to visit with some patients while here. I managed to meet him on the 3rd floor which is pediatrics and briefly told him about Jessica and her being here for 7 months. He asked specifically for her room number and said he would come up to see her.

We waited with anticipation for his arrival and yes he showed up, in all his "clown" get-up. You see if you remember he is the doctor that was featured in the movie "Patch Adams" with Robin Williams. "Patch" believes in using humor with patients and having that "special connection" through humor and happiness! Dr. Patch Adams is the founder and director of Gesundheit! Institute, a model of community and medicine that embraces the importance of care, creativity, and fun.

So, in he walks and proceeds straight over to Jessica's bed and asks if he could hold her hand - she says yes. He then starts to ask Jessica about herself and why she is here. As she starts to recount her "story", he is amazed at all that she has been through and says to Jessica that she is a true miracle and that her story needs to be told! He asks her who is responsible for this "miracle" and she says: "God and Dr. Cantu!" With that he says "I want to meet this Dr. Cantu". So I run out of the room to get Dr. Cantu who just happened to be on the floor with another patient Fern.

In walks Dr. Cantu and he shakes hands with Dr. Patch Adams. They begin to talk about Jessica and her history and prognosis and he then congratulates Dr. Cantu for his "amazing work" with Jessica. We all clapped for Dr. Cantu and I will say it was really very special to honor him in that way!

I then asked to take a picture of the two "doctors". "Patch" said to "Cantu" - "Let's make it a funny picture Dr. CAN-DO" Here is the picture:

I will say that he stayed with Jessica for at least 20 minutes. He really wanted to talk with her, hear her story, and connect with her. He then began to recite this poem by Emily Dickinson called "Hope Is The Thing With Feathers". In a strange coincidence, the quote for the day on Jessica's message board was all about Hope! Here is the poem he recited to her:


Hope is the thing with feathers
That perches in the soul,
And sings the tune--without the words,
And never stops at all,

And sweetest in the gale is heard;
And sore must be the storm
That could abash the little bird
That kept so many warm.

I've heard it in the chillest land,
And on the strangest sea;
Yet, never, in extremity,
It asked a crumb of me.

(Emily Dickinson defines hope by comparing it to a bird).

As he was getting ready to leave he asked for our address as he wants to send Jessica an autographed copy of one of his books and also one of his clown noses. We then marched out of her room as we followed him down the hall with seven of us all together in a giant pair of underwear that he brought along with him and me in his chicken hat. As we went down the hall we quickly stopped in Fern's room and then in Elena's room as well. As we then followed him down the hallway towards the nurses station there were people and patients all lined up on both sides of the hallway- some standing, some in wheelchairs, some young, some old, cheering him on!!! It was truly a special day and another "chapter" for the book and story of Jessica's Journey" to be told!

Till then...................

With love and a smile,
Sarah Gina & Jessica*

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Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Greetings to All

Hello To All,

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We hope you all had a blessed Easter celebration. I gave Jessica a little chocolate Easter bunny for Easter and a big hug and kiss to let her know how very proud I am of her and of all she continues to try to accomplish while here in Monterrey. I couldn't be more blessed to be called her "MoM"! She currently is fighting an infection and is on levaquin IV, and today Dr. Cantu is going to perform a procedure to try and block the nerve in the right leg that may be contributing to the pain that she is experiencing in that leg. As you know, that is the leg that had the initial tick bite and subsequent re-triggering of the RSD in her leg and then entire body. Jessica is still managing to take her "small steps" in her recovery. Please pray for her today and for God to continue to bless her with the "inner strength" that only comes from Him alone!

Yesterday we said goodbye to John Roach and his wife Rosemary and family members Diane and Jennifer. John was here this past week for boosters and we had an instant connection with their family. Many similarities, from John being a volunteer fireman before his illness to Rosemary being Sicilian like me, and I could go on and on, but I will say they became like family! I presented John with his "handmade original ketamine coma firebear" (this is the 16th one I have made and presented since here). Each bear seems to get better and better and I have found that they are my "therapy" and I really enjoy giving them to the coma patients and doctors as well! Godspeed John and Rosemary and stay well - we miss you!

Another former coma patient is here as well, Elena Cohen, and her husband Isaac and family members Jessica and Sylvia. I had met them 3 months ago as Elana returns every 3 months for her boosters as well. She is a very special person and has been through alot, but she still has that "fighter spirit" in her. She wants to meet Jessica before she leaves, as she has been following her journey as well. Yesterday Isaac went to the local store for me to pick up a few things for Jessica. Everyone here becomes very united. We have truly met a lot of special families that struggle each day toward a better life, with less pain, as well!

Also, Fern Kwantes returns tomorrow from Canada for her series of boosters as well. She has become a very special friend and she will be returning with her friend Cindy. Please pray for a safe and uneventful journey for her as well!

Everyone that does return here to the Hospital San Jose Tec for their ketamine boosters is very touched and amazed at what Jessica has been through and endured. They are so happy to see the progress she has made, even after all the struggles and setbacks she has faced. I believe with all my heart that God's glory will ultimately be revealed for Jessica and I hope that he will continue to bless her and all of the coma patients as well! Someone once said this quote: " Enjoy the little things in life, for one day you may look back and realize that they were the BIG things!!!

God bless you all today and we pray that today finds you all well! Thank you for continuing to take this journey - Jessica's journey - with us everyday --- it means a lot to us -- more than you can know!!!

In God's Love, always,
Sarah Gina (Jessica's Mom)*

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Saturday, April 3, 2010

Blessed Easter (Felices Pascua)

Blessed Easter To All,

Easter Sunday celebrates the resurrection of Jesus and of our ability to rise with him. Because of his death and resurrection we have eternal life. In death, life is not ended, it's changed. The changes are the fullness that God wanted us to live from the beginning. The wonder of the Holy Week is that out of His death comes life for those who believe. Easter Sunday is the highlight for all Christians. May you all have a blessed Easter and may we all be mindful of the message that God sent to us. May that message of new life rising out of death be as powerful today as it was then!

I Peter 1:3:
"Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In His mercy He has given us new birth into a living HOPE, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead!"

From our family to all of you, may the blessings you have shown to us, return to you tenfold and may you all have a blessed and joyful Easter!!!
Felices Pascua de Mexico!!!


In God's love, always,

The Stevens Family*

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Thursday, April 1, 2010

Maundy Thursday

Blessings To All,

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Today is Maundy Thursday. The word "maundy" comes from a Latin word meaning "mandate" - to give, to entrust, to order. The term is usually translated as "commandment" from John's account of this Thursday night. According to the gospel, as Jesus and his disciples were eating the final meal together before Jesus' arrest, he washed the feet of his disciples to illustrate humility and the spirit of servanthood. After they finished the meal, as they walked into the night toward Gethsemane, Jesus taught his disciples a "new" commandment -
John 13:34-35:
"A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, you also ought to love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another".

May we all "remember" today - God's true act of deliverance for us all!

In God's love,
The Stevens' Family*

Jessica is continuing to take her small steps towards recovery. We are currently trying to keep her sitting up in bed more during the day, to try and get her body accustomed to the sitting up position. During the boosters, we prop her up with pillows, and slowly raise the head of the bed. The other day we tried to do this on our own, and she fainted. Dr. Cantu said I probably tried to raise her too fast. Jessica is a very determined person, as you all know. Please pray for her to continue taking these small steps and the strength needed to carry them out! Also, pray for less painful days.
Also, I presented Kerri with her ketamine coma bear that I made for her as she left the hospital yesterday. May God bless you and your family as you travel back home to Pennsylvania to continue your road to recovery.
Also, pray for John who is here getting his boosters this week. May they accomplish what they need to do for him to feel less pain as well.

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Jessica's Journey to Getting Her Life Back

By Sarah Gina (Jessica's Mom)

As we begin this journey toward renewed health we would like to express our sincere heartfelt thanks and appreciation to Dr. Anthony Kirkpatrick and all the work he has done and continues to do in order to bring patients like my daughter Jessica back to a more meaningful life and restored from this devastating illness. Also, special thanks to Dr. Fernando Cantu and his team of doctors in Mexico for taking on a difficult case like my daughters, Words cannot express the renewed sense of hope that we have that one day, our Jessica, can regain her life that has been taken away from her – God Bless you all!

Jessica’s Story

Once an A+ student who loved school, was involved in many extracurricular activities, played varsity tennis, lacrosse and gymnastics and enjoyed spending time with her family and friends, our daughter Jessica has spent the last 3 years incapacitated, paralyzed, unable to sit or walk and eat. She spends her days confined to a hospital bed, wearing sunglasses and noise-canceling headphones, due to severe light and sound sensitivity.

Jessica and her sisters, 2 mos. before becoming ill

The pain she feels is indescribable and all attempted treatments have not even come close to relieving her suffering.

She has seen many doctors, undergone numerous painful tests and procedures, has been prescribed various medications, and has been hospitalized frequently including being intubated and on a ventilator. She is severely debilitated and currently is only 92 pounds. This is certainly no life for a 21 year old young woman!

Jessica is suffering from neurologic Lyme disease and Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy (RSD), a severely debilitating and painful neuromuscular disorder. She suffers daily with constant sharp, stabbing, tingling and burning pain; throughout her body; severe headaches; paralysis; intense muscle spasms; gastroparesis; seizures; twisting of her limbs (dystonia); sensitivity to any touch (allodynia); extreme sensitivity to lights and sounds; excessive sweating; swelling; fevers; softening of bones; decreased hair growth; redness and discoloration of the limbs; and painful skin ulcers. The pain is constant and unrelenting, but despite her suffering, her faith in God remains and she still has hope for her future.

Jessica's painful skin lesions

Jessica's journey began in 1999, when she was only 11 years old. She became very ill with Mono and was bed bound for 3 months. She subsequently developed RSD (stage 1) of the lower right leg. She received early intervention and returned to playing sports and enjoying her life.

Jessica, age 15, at summer camp

Four years later, in 2003, while away at a sleep-away camp, she developed a rash behind her right knee, coincidentally in the same leg that previously had RSD!

At the time, the camps nurse & doctor told her that it was “duck rash” – a rash from swimming in the lake with duck feces. However, Jessica was able to obtain photos from camp from another camper which shows the classic “bulls-eye” rash from Lyme disease! It wasn’t until much later and only after developing symptoms and becoming very ill, was the diagnosis of Lyme disease and Babesiosis (another tick-borne infection) made.

Most people (and doctors!) have no idea how serious Lyme disease can become and no clue how to properly diagnose it. Unfortunately, if she would have been promptly diagnosed and treated for Lyme disease, the RSD would not have been triggered and she would not be suffering.

July 2003, Jessica's Lyme disease rash

If it wasn’t for her doctor, Dr. Liegner, and his expertise with complex cases of Lyme, and his determination to try any means in getting her well, by getting a “team” of doctors on her case, we wouldn’t be here today, still fighting. We owe him a deep sense of gratitude for all he does for Jessica!

During these past three years and with the pain becoming more intense and unbearable she has been seeing Dr. Finkelstein for pain management. He has even made house calls to spare her the pain of coming by ambulance to his office. Jessica has been treated with multiple pain medications, at the highest possible doses, as well as an implanted dilaudid pain pump, which delivers potent medication straight into her spine. Many doctors have told us that with the amount of medications Jessica was taking would be enough to “kill a horse”—yet they had little to no effect on her. If it wasn’t for Dr. Finkelstein trying to alleviate her constant, severe, unrelenting pain, I don’t know how she would have managed. He is very special to us as well.

Recently Jessica was transported by air ambulance to Tampa, Florida to see Dr. Anthony Kirkpatrick, a world renowned RSD expert. Dr. Kirkpatrick told us that Jessica is one of the most debilitated patients he has ever seen.

Jessica getting into the air-ambulance to go see Dr. Kirkpatrick

Upon his testing and because Jessica's condition is so severe, Dr. Kirkpatrick is recommending the only treatment available that can possibly help relieve her suffering, and afford her some semblance of a “normal” life - the Ketamine Coma Procedure - a clinical trial that is being conducted in Monterrey, Mexico.

During this procedure Jessica will be put into a coma , with the hope that her nerves, brain and spinal cord will “reset” -so that her nervous system sends the correct signals to her brain.

Yes, this is a radical, scary treatment, however, for Jessica, "scary" is thinking that she could spend the rest of her life in this condition, unable to walk, eat, or take care of herself. Since all reasonable treatments have failed to help her, we feel we must try everything possible to help Jessica regain her life.

We understand that due to Jessica’s fragile condition, there is a high risk associated with this procedure. We are also aware that other patients with severe RSD like Jessica's have had success.

Jessica’s goal is to one day become a doctor. Our hope is that with this study she can have that chance. As her Mom, I know that she will be a great doctor because when a patient presents in her office and says “Doctor, I am in pain and words cannot express how bad it is” – my daughter –Dr. Jessica– will be able to say - :I know how you feel, I’ve been there too. So, take a seat and let me tell you a story”….

We are so thankful and feel so blessed to have been led to Dr. Kirkpatrick.

God is good and with his help guiding Dr. Cantu and Dr. Kirkpatrick, our hope is for Jessica to be able to return to us whole again and pain-free!