Jacey was diagnosed with Stage IV Ewings Sarcoma on June 19, 2010, at the age of 16, after she had already suffered from a rare illness for two years, Chronic Recurrent Multifocal Osteomyelitis (CRMO).
From the beginning, Jacey showed determination, strength, and faith. She marked the word “believe” as her own personal mantra believing that she would not only conquer her illness but also make a positive difference in the world. “Believe” became more tangible and evolved from a personal mantra to a recognizable logo for all children suffering from cancer.
Ewings Sarcoma is cancer in the soft tissues or bones and usually appears in children. This meant Jacey would be in treatment at the Alberta Children’s Hospital. At the time of admission, she had a mass that completely covered her right lung and three lesions on her left lung occupying the lower lobe. In addition, they found a small spot on the femur in the soft tissue surrounding the bone. Jacey’s treatment plan included numerous rounds of chemotherapy, a 9-hour lung surgery removing 2/3 of her lung, multiple biopsies and line surgeries, radiation and lastly high dose chemotherapy treatment followed by a stem cell transplant. The treatment stole Jacey’s innocence but ignited a powerful inner force driven by faith, love, and hope.
On October 28, 2010, she was admitted to the Foothills Hospital for a 9-hour surgery where specialized thoracic surgeons would team together to remove 2/3 from her right lung. This required the surgeons to open up her back, separate her ribs and slowly remove what was left of the tumour. Many complications arose in the operating room. Highly qualified surgeons cut into the side casing of her heart to help save the portion of the lung that would be left inside her body. Upon awakening, Jacey experienced pain so excruciating that it was beyond comprehension.
Jacey wrote: “Many times throughout treatment my body would become immune-suppressed and therefore require me to be in complete isolation. 75% of my time in treatment was on isolation of friends and some family. It was in these times that I was able to reflect on who I was and what I wanted to do with my life. Tomorrow is never a guaranteed day. Many people look at my journey and consider it terrible. Well yes, there are strenuous challenges that come with years of illness, but there are also many blessings. If there were one piece of advice that I could offer anyone fighting cancer, or just fighting life, in general, it would be that anything is possible for those who believe. Keep your head high, never give up, and smile, always smile, because it is in those times that you realize your real strength”.
Jacey went to Heaven on October 14, 2012, after fighting for life, love, and faith for two and a half years. Throughout her illness, she encouraged people to get involved in their communities and support one another with the hope that one-day children’s cancer would be less invasive with a higher number of survivors. Jacey was involved in many different organizations to help people, while she struggled herself. I, Shonalie Biafore, mother of Jacey Uphill will honour Jacey and continue her legacy through Believe in the Gold by raising awareness about childhood cancer and raising money for the necessary research that will ultimately assist other children and their families with this life-altering journey.