Second Chances: Beaufort's Jessica Mattson
By Brittney Hiller | Friendships are sweet, enjoyable, and worth every second. Even during times filled with the unknown, trials, or angst, a relationship between friends is all that matters. Allow me a moment to tell you about my dear friend. She is a treasure amongst treasures, a gift beyond gifts, a genuine soul, and a sweet sistah from anothah mistah.
I wish to offer you a piece of inspiration that I have received through knowing my friend.
I introduce Jessica Steinmeyer Mattson, my beautiful friend with a continuously courageous and yet, unique story .
Jessica was born with the genetic disease known as Cystic Fibrosis – a genetic mutation that causes the over production of mucosa. Wait, What? I know, think of it like this – you have a terrible sinus infection that includes the deep – seat ed cough compounded by chronic infection , for the rest of your life. Oh, and it continues to worsen. Now, imagine having this, but not knowing until you were twelve. Yes, for twelve long years, Jessica went with out the proper medication and support she needed to help alleviate her continuous symptoms. After receiving the proper care she needed she became diligent in her at home treatments – with a few tugs, spats, and kicks here and there.
Hey, she was just a kid.
Aside from all of this, Jessica is hardly ever found in a bad mood. I am a naturally happy person, but she outranks me tenfold and she could hardly breathe.
For as long as I have known her, she has been continuously supportive of me. I had the pleasure of meeting Jessica when she came in for a gifted massage appointment. Our friendship blossomed into something incredible after we crossed paths again a few months later.
Jessica grew up in our quaint town of Beaufort, SC and continues to live here with her adoring husband, two mastiffs, two Chihuahuas, and I’m certain there is a partridge in their pear tree.
She loves her family unconditionally and would do anything for them, so much so, that to extend her livelihood and well-being she recently received a double-lung transplant.
Yes, you read that correctly, two brand new lungs were placed in lieu of hers in hopes to have a new lease on life.
When the call came that she would receive the new lungs, we were enjoying a wonderful afternoon of her favorite activity – the local book fair at the Waterfront. She and I returned to my car where I had noticed four missed calls from her husband – which is rare because he usually verbalizes via text. I looked at Jess and said, “what? Like you got ‘the call’ or something.” She laughed, “ya! I know!” She then called him back and after a moment began excitedly exclaiming that in fact she DID receive the call.
Frantically she gets off the phone both excited and dumbfounded and says. “I got the call! Blahhhh!”
Blahh!” is Jessica’s #1 way of showing her excitement – It’s wonderful and you can do it too – Just put your hands up with fingers spread wide – semi jazz hands style and yell “BLAHH” with a ginormous smile on your face. BINGO!
I can tell you I began driving as if I had an expectant mother who’s water just broke. Yes, I admit 60mph down a small town street is not ideal, but she had to be on the way to Charleston from Beaufort in thirty minutes. Granted, Beaufort is about a 10 mile radius and on a good day one may be able to complete the “Beaufort Circle” in 10 minutes, but still – I felt the need for speed!
Jessica called her Dad and explained what just happened with a quick “BLAHH” she was off the phone.
She received her transplant just a short 15 hours later and was up walking the next day in ICU.
We are forever grateful for the donor and their family and will forever celebrate them.
Due to Jessica’s illness she is unable to work and has asked for the financial assistance of COTA, The Children’s Organ Transplant Association that offers financial assistance to families like Jessica’s to assist with transplant related expenses.
As you may imagine, the cost of surgery a lone is daunting, but add on medication, medical treatments, continued care, and temporary housing; Jessica wonders how her sweet family will remain stable.
Jessica is an enormous support system to me and to all of her friends. She offers everyone she meets the genuine attention, smile, and conversation we are all worth.
She has taught me how to truly live and she continues to.
Just the other day she mentioned to me how her arms were sore from wrapping presents. “Presents??” I thought, “I haven’t even purchased any yet!”
If you have been following along via the Breathe + Inspire COTA for Jessica Facebook page, you may have noticed by now how much she positively affects others in her life. We are grateful for this opportunity to fundraise for her and for this we are throwing a massive party on New Year’s Eve! Join us December 31st at 9pm at The Shed in Port Royal, for A Starry Night New Year’s Eve Masquerade Ball.
We promise you it’ll be some of the most fun you’ve had in awhile. Enjoy an open bar, a DJ, food, live acrobats and aerialists and lots more. Tickets are limited and can be purchased in advance online at http://cota.donorpages.com/MiracleMakers/TeamJessicaM/ .