As an account services rep for a major advertising agency with offices in Miami and throughout the world, Wellington High School graduate Jessica Duemig was a career-driven 32-year-old. She was a sports marketing expert going someplace certain in a high-pressure industry when she suddenly hit a pink wall. The bad news: Stage 2 triple negative metaplastic breast cancer, and eight years before she was due for her first mammogram.
“They usually start mammograms on women when they are 40,” Duemig said.
She found a lump during a time period when she was being recruited for a new, even greater job on the client side of the business.
“The doctor told me I’d have to put my life on hold,” Duemig recalled. “I said, ‘This isn’t going to work for me.’ My treatment plan followed my own rules. I started my new job the first day after my third chemo treatment. From diagnosis to done, it was seven months. I was single, with no kids, materialistic, self-driven, and completely out of the blue, I was going to have a double mastectomy and chemotherapy.”
So, Duemig wrote “the” book, not just a book.
“It’s the book I wished I had the day I got the diagnosis. It would have made a great gift,” she said. “Who was I going to talk to that understood me?”
Books on the market were not geared toward career-focused women.
“There seem to be two types of cancer books,” said Duemig, describing the very technical, medically oriented book written by a healthcare professional, and, “The fluffy, girlie, kid-glove, softer approach,” she explained.
Her book, Warrior: Challenge Accepted, is different.
“Warrior is the story of the battle I went through,” Duemig said. “The cover matches the content. It’s raw and uncensored. This is not some cute story.”
She explained that the book is for women who have or want to have the “I got this” attitude.
Duemig got her diagnosis on Feb. 1, 2017. By the next day, she was scheduled for her operation, fertility preservation and four months of chemotherapy.
“On Feb. 28, 2020, I was officially cured,” Duemig said.
Most people who haven’t gone through it know very little about cancer. On TV, it is mentioned in hush tones, and everyone touched by it has sick, drawn faces, Duemig said.
In her book, she talks about the chemotherapy and the trepidation that patients have. “Their mindset can help them with their reaction,” Duemig said. “Chemo is very real, and attitude is everything.”
The way the disease affects people is different in many cases. “I was a warrior,” she said. “I gained weight during chemotherapy. That’s unusual, but it shows that attitude is everything.”
In the book, Duemig shares her story, but does not suggest it fits everyone’s situation.
“The book is my experience,” she said. “It is not a recipe book. It is the practical preparation I took and should have taken if someone had told me. It is a guidebook of what to expect, to empower people. Things like how you won’t be able to lift your arms above parallel for a while, to how to get the ordeal into your head and win there first.”
Another suggestion: don’t go to the internet for advice. “I remind people, ‘Don’t Google anything.’ It is all the horror stories, and the bad will come out before you even have a chance,” Duemig said.