Jessica's Story

 
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32 years of a beautiful soul is better than none.

32 years of a beautiful soul is better than none. Jessica Lynn Halfast was born and raised in the small town of Centerville, PA on December 25th, 1985 to her parents Dennis and Karen Halfast. She was successful in both school and work.  In 2008, she and some of her closest friends chose to celebrate spring break on the beautiful beaches of Ft. Lauderdale, FL. After a fantastic adventure filled with wonderful memories, it took no time for Jessica to realize that she was meant to live by the beach. She went back to the farm and packed her car that spring and headed south. She was hired at The Cheesecake Factory shortly after arriving and thus began her journey in South Florida. 

 

Jessica was a beautiful, outgoing, friendly, loving woman with lots of life to live and her personality and smile lit up every room she entered. She made everyone feel special, it was one of the many unforgettable qualities that she possessed. She met her husband, Jeff Boswell at The Cheesecake Factory in November 2008. Their relationship blossomed into an amazing life together and they were wed on April 25th, 2014 on those very beautiful beaches of Fort Lauderdale. As their management careers at work grew, they decided the time was right to start a family and they had their first son Channing Jeffrey in August of 2015 about a month before he was originally scheduled to arrive. They were so in love with their first born and were having the best time being parents that they decided to try for a second child.

 

Jessica found out she was pregnant with baby boy number two in June 2017. The first few months of pregnancy changed The Boswells forever. Jessica began to immediately have extreme upper back pain, fatigue, lack of appetite, etc. which was attributed to pregnancy. After many occupational therapy visits, chiropractors, acupuncture, and enduring so many sleepless nights, Jessica knew something was seriously wrong with her body. This was not her first pregnancy and she knew the normal aches and pains that were attributed to pregnancy. For 2 months she couldn’t lie down to sleep in her own bed and was sleeping sitting upward or any possible “comfortable” position so she had to find out what was up. On November 20th, 2017, Jessica and Jeff went in for a routine sonogram. Jeff was explaining to the tech what her pain was like and the tech decided to search around the normal placenta sack into Jessica’s abdomen. While searching, there was some unidentified fluid building up around the sack. At this point Jessica was rushed to the OB Triage for further examination. The surgeons decided to test the fluid and to their disbelief, it came back as malignant cancer cells. The following days were filled with further diagnostic testing which also showed lesions on her liver. Jessica was then admitted as an inpatient at Tampa General Hospital where she eventually passed away at just 4.5 short months later.

 

Jessica’s health rapidly declined and her pain levels increased. The baby was healthy according to the doctors but he was too pre-mature to be born. Jessica was shortly after diagnosed with Stage 4 Cancer (they were not certain on where the cancer was originating from at this point, it was believed to be ovarian) and the only option while being pregnant was Chemotherapy. This is not something Jessica and Jeff felt comfortable with but if it gave her a shot to survive it had to be done. They scheduled her for her first round of treatment on November 29th at 2pm. Jessica began to have what seemed to be contractions on the morning of the 29th just a few hours before the doctors were going to administer the first round of Chemo with baby on board, the chemo was postponed and baby Brayden was born that evening at 3 lbs 1.4 oz. 

 

The days to follow would be some of the hardest days for both Jessica and Brayden. Brayden was born very pre-mature and had severely underdeveloped lungs despite the series of steroid shots he was given before birth in attempt to develop his little lungs as much as possible to give him a fighting chance. The doctors diagnosed him with pre-mature chronic lung disease and his battle to grow his lungs would be an ongoing issue for the following months. Jessica never really recovered from the delivery and her health became so severe that Jeff and her family would have to make a decision between life and death. On December 9th, 2017, Dr. Marcet, the colorectal surgeon at TGH and his team came for their normal morning rounds. Jessica was very malnourished, in severe pain and had been vomiting bile all night. Dr. Marcet talked with Jeff and together they decided that they didn’t have much of a choice. It was, perform an extremely dangerous surgery that could give her a fighting chance or not have surgery and hope for a few more days to live in this severely painful state. Jeff and Jessica had said from day one that they would fight until the end, as hard as she can, as long as she can…. so without hesitation they chose surgery. Courtney her niece, Jessica’s parents, her son Channing, her sister-in-law Jenny and mother-in-law Beth all said their goodbyes that day very well knowing that her chance of coming out of this surgery alive were not in her favor. They rushed her to the OR and would spend the next 6.5 hours removing her colon, spleen, portion of the liver, and the omentum discovering that the cancer was Stage 4 colorectal and had metastasized all through-out her abdomen.

 

Jessica spent 9 days intubated in the ICU with Jeff, Courtney, and her parents by her side. She fought and fought to get strong enough so she could walk and talk again. She was in pain but never made excuses not to fight. Jessica was born on Christmas day, so she set a goal to try and make it home for the day. She was incredible in her efforts and was able to find the strength to come home for Christmas Day. Her parents, Channing, Jeff, Harold, and Courtney were all there to celebrate the small win with her and spend her last Christmas and birthday by her side. The next day she would return to the hospital and continue the battle. The only thing that made her smile that day was watching her son Channing open all his Christmas gifts. Running over to her after opening each one yelling, “Mommy Mommy look look!”. Channing was the absolute love and light of her life up to this point in addition to Brayden and Jeff.

 

The next few months would be an up and down roller coaster for Jessica and her family. She restarted Chemo and fought her hardest to recover so she could be there for her boys. Brayden was getting stronger and after 85 days in the NICU he was able to come home with Jeff and Courtney who moved in with them after her diagnosis. This was another win for the Boswell family but Jessica still had a long road if she had a chance at recovery.

 

The cancer was running its course and the Chemo was showing to be effective on the tumors. The problem was that Jessica’s body had become so weak that she was struggling with her blood oxygen levels and still hadn’t eaten anything in 4 months, surviving strictly on TPN (total parenteral nutrition). Eventually, Jessica’s body started to fail to the point that we knew recovery was no longer on the table. The days were spent trying to get Jessica down to the NICU to see Brayden, Courtney bringing Channing to the hospital to visit his mommy, taking Jess outside in the wheelchair to see the bay in Tampa, watching movies together, anything to try to lift her spirits but she was very exhausted at this point and we all knew the inevitable was coming, but never once did she complain, she always did her best to maintain good spirits. One morning she failed to respond to her nurse and they rushed her back to the ICU where she was intubated due to CO2 poisoning. At this point she was putting up what we thought was her last fight.

 

Jessica, Jeff and her parents had to make a decision to keep her intubated forever or remove the tube and possibly try and get her comfortable enough to last a few more days without the intubation. Jessica was fully conscious about a day or so after this but had to remain intubated because of her poor lung function. The only option in her families’ mind was to get her comfortable and to spend every second with her until the cancer ran its course as she had been through enough. The tube was removed on March 20, 2018 after her family each took turns individually saying their good byes and Jeff and Courtney watched as Channing got his early Easter basket so Jess could be part of that. With her parents, Jeff, Courtney, Channing, a close family friend Aaron, and dozens of nurses and doctors by her side (who she became very close with in her extended stay at the hospital) surrounded her, the tube was pulled and a palliative care suite was prepared for her.

Jess, yet again, defied all odds and lived for an additional week surrounded by her family, closest friends, children, and husband. She was nothing short of a warrior, a Serene Soldier. She never gave up, she fought with every ounce she had physically, mentally, and emotionally.

 

On March 27, 2018, Jessica Lynn Boswell took her last breath and went to be with the angels with Jeff and 2 close friends by her side. She will be remembered as one of the strongest women that many knew. Jeff, Channing, Brayden, Courtney, and her parents will live on for Jessica and promise to be the best they can be. Jessica will be loved forever by so many and Never Forgotten! Rest in paradise our beautiful, selfless, fearless angel, our very own Serene Soldier.