Living with Purpose: Jessica’s Brain Aneurysm Survival and Advocacy Journey

Tick, tick, BOOM! The sound of an aneurysm rupturing and forever changing a family. A brain aneurysm ruptures every 18 minutes in the US. An estimated 6.7 million people in the United States have an unruptured brain aneurysm. That is 1 in 50 people. I am Jessica Lynn Clemence, Director of Sales and Outreach with Avamere at Cascadia Village. I was treated for an unruptured brain aneurysm in June 2022 at the age of 38. Today I am well and a perfect example of #ScantoSave. I am one of the lucky ones. My mother wasn’t so lucky and passed from a brain aneurysm at the age of 42, in 1996. Most brain aneurysms are treatable if you know you have one. This is why I choose to advocate for the Brain Aneurysm Foundation, create awareness of signs and symptoms, and encourage others to converse about family health history and be the reason others seek help.

My journey started with a phone call. Fortunately, my family communicates about our family health history and there was a high enough risk in our immediate family that my siblings and I needed to get scanned. A lot of symptoms I was exhibiting could have been attributed to other health ailments. Symptoms of a brain aneurysm include severe and sudden headaches, blurred vision, pain above or behind one eye, dilated pupils, neck pain, or numbness on one side of the face. Some individuals experience no symptoms and people can live with unruptured brain aneurysms for years before detection.

Kaiser Permanente scheduled an MRI for me and found and treated my brain aneurysm before it ruptured. I appreciate every person that helped care for me, especially my neurosurgeon, Dr. Jeremey Fields, who communicated and assured me through every step of my surgery. He really went above and beyond what I could have asked for and even did a podcast with me after my surgery to create awareness for brain aneurysms last year.

My best advice is to talk to your families about your medical history and start advocating for your own health.

I come from a long line of women with great tenacity and perseverance (TEAM LYNN). After my diagnosis day to day, life was rough for a while. I got through it with support from my family (my husband and work family too), music/concerts (punk rock), and my job at Avamere at Cascadia Village that helped by keeping me busy enough not to think about it. I knew that no matter what happened to me that I was going to help as many people as possible before my surgery. I have a stent and coil that will prevent hemorrhaging if my aneurysm ruptures. After my last angiogram, Dr. Fields said he couldn’t have been happier with the results of my procedure. I am a great example of why a person who has symptoms and or family history should have a conversation with their doctor.

Now that I am in the clear for the most part, I do have a little survivor’s guilt. Why was I saved when others passed away from this? I don’t think I will ever have a clear answer to that question, but I do feel privileged to still be here with all of you and inclined to make a difference in the world now more than ever. Afterall, I am my mother’s legacy. If reading this today helps one person, I have done my job. If there was more research and awareness in 1996, maybe my mom would still be alive today. There are many effective treatments for brain aneurysms currently and a good healthcare team can guide you through the best options. My best advice is to talk to your families about your medical history and start advocating for your own health. No one knows your body better than you and sometimes a second opinion is necessary for a clear diagnosis. I encourage you to start doing this today as tomorrow is never promised.

Ironically the Brain Aneurysm Foundation was established on my mother’s birthday, August 19, in Boston in 1994. The BAF is globally recognized for creating brain aneurysm awareness and education, supporting survivors, caregivers, and their families, general advocacy, and funding research. September is Brain Aneurysm Awareness Month. I have become an ambassador for the BAF to assist in fundraising efforts for the Second Annual Day of Engagement on September 21, 2023. I have also connected my fundraising efforts to Facebook. Please join me in helping others and funding research to help people affected by brain aneurysms. Please consider visiting my ambassador page and contributing. Your small donation today could make a huge impact tomorrow. Let’s work together to #stopthepop, remember most brain aneurysms are treatable if they are found before rupture. Listen to my podcast and hear my full story or donate to the BAF by clicking the links below. Thank you in advance for spreading awareness about brain aneurysms and supporting my fundraising efforts.