Today I am deeply saddened that we lost a great member of our community, and my friend, Jess Ainscough, at the age of 30.
I met Jess in 2010 after she mentioned MindBodyGreen on her Wellness Warrior blog. Just 25 years old, she was battling cancer and sharing her story with the world through her honest, thoughtful blog posts. After a round of chemo wasn't successful, she had decided to "conquer cancer with carrot juice," and it seemed to be working.
Jess soon became one of the first 20 bloggers at MBG. Back then, we had no traffic and were running on pure passion. And Jess had plenty of passion.
She kept writing about her healing journey and over the years, we traded emails and Skyped. She was always upbeat, healing and thriving with cancer. In fact, the lesions that had once covered her arm were now gone.
In October 2012, my wife Colleen and I finally got to meet Jess and her lovely fiancé Tallon. They'd flown to New York City from Australia days before Hurricane Sandy struck. They wound up getting stuck in a small apartment they'd booked on Airbnb with no electricity or heating.
Downtown New York was barely functioning, and the city was a mess, but this didn't deter Jess. We met at the Whole Foods Market in TriBeCa after it reopened and talked for a few hours.
When I said how sorry we were that she'd picked the worst time ever to visit the city, she shrugged it off and said she was having a blast. Not one complaint. After spending time with Jess, Colleen and I realized that you couldn't help but feel inspired by her energy.
Soon after that visit, Jess found out that her mother had cancer. Her mom — inspired by Jess's unconventional route to healing — opted against chemo and chose to pursue a drug-free path. Unfortunately, she didn't have similar results and passed away.
Jess was incredibly close with her mother and devastated by her death. It also rattled her beliefs about healing without Western medicine. Cruelly, bloggers began to attack her online for her choices.
Soon Jess' health took a turn for the worse. She published the following on her blog in December:
This year absolutely brought me to my knees. I've been challenged, frightened, and cracked open in ways I never had before. After my mum died at the end of last year, my heart was shattered and it's still in a million pieces. I had no idea how to function without her, and it turns out my body didn't either. For the first time in my almost seven-year journey with cancer, this year I've been really unwell. I've lived with cancer since 2008 and for most of those years my condition was totally stable. When my mum became really ill, my cancer started to become aggressive again. After she died, things really started flaring up.
I've had scans to detect what's going on in my body, and I can report that the disease is still contained to my left arm and shoulder, however I do have a big fungating tumour mass in that shoulder that's causing me dramas. Over 10 months of non-stop bleeding from the armpit has rendered me really weak (and uncomfortable) and as a result I've had no choice but to stop absolutely everything and rest. Tallon, my freaking hero, has had to step up and help me with everything from making food and juices, doing all of our housework and laundry to doing my hair.
As difficult as it has been to simply surrender and allow what was happening to happen, complete rest has been exactly what I needed. I've had no energy for distractions, so I've literally been lying in bed deeply pondering my situation. I've been meditating for hours, doing visualisation techniques, and feeling every single emotion that's bubbled up. I've always been numb to my emotions, coating everything in positivity, so this has been a game-changer for me and also very strange. Some weeks I've felt nothing but overwhelming sadness, others I've been really bitter and angry. The most important part though is that I didn't try to stop or censor any of it (even though I gasped and covered my mouth after shamefully and very uncharacteristically uttering the words "fuck my life" during one particular outburst).
I've also spent my time doing lots of research into treatment options. I've been speaking to doctors, healers, and specialists and I've been completely opening myself up to attracting the right people who will help me heal – whether they are from the natural medicine world or conventional. My beliefs have been completely shaken up and I've had to drop any remnants of fear and ego that were preventing me from exploring these options sooner. I've discovered that when we completely close ourselves off from something, the universe will sure enough give us an experience that makes us see that everything has a place. It's been completely eye-opening and very, very humbling.
I believe that as a result of my willingness to stop controlling my healing path and surrender to whatever the universe has up its sleeves to help me, I've attracted the most amazing healing team. I'm working with an oncologist who is kind, caring and non-judgemental – completely unlike any of the specialists I worked with in the early days of my journey. When we are open and in a state of surrender, the right people/situations/tools will appear. Final decisions and plans are now in process and I'll keep you in the loop in the new year.
So, that's me. It feels so good to finally be able to share all of this with you. I'm going back into hibernation for the holidays, but you can expect to see me back on the blog in January. I will be rolling out some big changes when I return, and can't wait to share them with you. Thank you so much for being patient with me, for being so understanding and for sending through so much love (I feel it all and it makes a big difference).
Here's to ushering in lots of miracles, fun and adventure in 2015. I hope you have the best Christmas surrounded by loved ones and I will chat to you again very soon.
About a week ago, I emailed Jess to see how she was doing. On Tuesday, she sent me this note:
"Thank you so much Jason! You guys are awesome. I'm so grateful for your support. Massive love, Jess x"
On Thursday she passed away.
Sometimes terrible things happen to amazing people and there are no good answers. This is one of those times. So today I'm drinking carrot juice in honor of an incredible woman who touched my life as well as the lives of millions of people.
Jess, we love you and we'll miss you.