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BLACKFOOTâ€”Blackfoot native Jessie Woodland, 25, is dealing with one of life's toughest blows with grace and dignity; inspiring everyone she meets along the way.
A Blackfoot native, Jessie is at home battling a second round of gastric cancer. Her friends and family are rallying to help with her care and financial needs, while reaching out to the Ellen DeGeneres Show, in hopes of fulfilling one of Jessie's dreams - to meet Ellen.
Jessie was originally diagnosed with the cancer about two and a half years ago. She underwent major surgery, chemo and radiation. All was well, until recently when Jessie became ill and could not hold down her food. At first, doctors suspected that it was a build up of scar tissue from her previous surgery that was causing the problem. However, Jessie and those who love her, were devastated to learn that the cancer is back and that there is a tumor in her intestines.
Jessie's mother, Suzette Woodland, said "this has been a heartbreaking ordeal."
"We had no clue that the cancer had come back," she said. "All of her scans had been coming back clean."
Suzette said that, through it all, her daughter has kept her wit and sense of humor, yet she is still accepting of the "card that has been dealt her."
"She is the strongest and most amazing person I have ever met," her mother exclaimed. "She has an angelic aura about her and turns heads everywhere she goes."
Many people in the community remember Jessie, a 2007 Blackfoot High School graduate, as an accomplished dancer with the BHS Broncadette's, Downtown Dance and the Blackfoot Stars. She was also an avid softball player.
Prior to her latest diagnosis, Jessie had been living in Utah. She is a CNA and has an associates degree in 'sign language.'
Jessie is engaged to be married to her girlfriend Emily Mattson.
"It's tough to ask for help. This community has been absolutely wonderful with their prayers and generosity," said an emotional Suzette. "She [Jessie] had insurance, but it's not much good anymore and she is not able to work."
A fundraiser has been set up for Jessie online at www.gofundme.com/755rqk with a goal of $10,000.
Raffle tickets are being sold for $10 at Blackfoot Medical Clinic and A to Z Pawn (in Blackfoot) for chance to win an XDM-45 subcompact handgun. And, an online auction is being held through Uptown Photography in Pocatello. For information on the auction, find Uptown Photography on Facebook.
Suzette emphasized that all of Jessie's family - including her father, Wesley Woodland and wife Melody; stepfather Wade McBride; siblings - Maggie Wagoner, Stetson Powers, and Leine Woodland; and fiance' [Emily] Mattson are grateful for the outpouring of support that has been shown Jessie.
"The doctors have been wonderful, giving Jessie the best care," she exclaimed. "Words can't describe what this has meant to us and how grateful we are to everyone."
Jessie's friends are encouraged to follow her on Facebook at "Life Happens," where she has chronicled her cancer ordeal since the diagnosis.