Living With Uncertainty
Despite learning that she has the CDH1 mutation, Jessica MacKenzie returned to Tech this fall with the plan to have a gastrectomy five years from now. But, living with the possibly of having cancer made focusing on her education difficult.
“My depression just got the better of me, and I couldn’t get out of bed in the morning,” she said. “I was just really sad, and so I ended up withdrawing and coming home.”
Rex Lacy, MacKenzie’s boyfriend and junior computer science major, stayed by her side as she dealt with everything she had learned in the past year.
“She is one of the bubbliest and most genuinely happy people I’ve ever seen,” Lacy said. “But she definitely knows how to put on a face, and that face is what she puts on when she’s trying to mask the pain of losing her aunt and going through the possibility of having cancer.”
After she was told about HDGC over winter break in 2011, MacKenzie and her parents told Lacy that they would understand if he wanted to leave the relationship. Lacy chose to stay.
“I was just like, ‘Are you kidding?’” he said. “I’m not just going to drop her because maybe things will get hard. She’s worth staying with, so I’ve always just wanted to do what I can to help her get through this.”
MacKenzie’s roommates Annie Wong and Kim Williams were also major sources of support.
“It was hard at times, but she has taken it really well considering,” said Wong, a junior computer engineering major. “I don’t know how I would have reacted to something like this. To have cancer at 20 is really scary and overwhelming for anyone.”
Wong said that living in the dark was what bothered MacKenzie the most.
“It was really scary because none of us knew what was going to happen,” Wong said. “It was really just the fear of the unknown and wondering what’s going to happen next.”
After MacKenzie withdrew from school for depression, she went home and had a scope done as a precaution. Surprisingly, two spots of cancer were found in her stomach.
“I kind of knew something was wrong, but I didn’t know what,” she said. “Now, obviously I know.”
She scheduled an appointment to have a gastrectomy in late October at Sloan-Kettering Memorial Cancer Center in New York, but the surgery was postponed due to Hurricane Sandy.
MacKenzie had her stomach removed on November 8.