Ames resident Jessica Hiatt has endeared herself to TikTok users across the globe by chronicling her battle with Stage IV colon cancer over the past two years. Now, as her recent videos have gone even more viral, well-wishers from across the country are sending her care packages.
“It helps me ’cause it was kind of like being able to journal about it,” Hiatt told Starting Line in an interview. “I guess document what I was going through and it’s fun to interact with people all around the world.”
The 34-year-old was diagnosed on May 13, 2019. Since then, she’s had two surgeries and 30 rounds of chemotherapy, all of which have taken a tremendous toll on her body.
Jessica is open about her story because she wants people to what it is like to have cancer and what it takes to treat it.
“It’s not pretty,” she said.
Jessica shared her latest treatment update in a Feb. 11 video that has garnered 13 million views.
“Hey friends and family, I have been put on hospice care,” she said. “So, unfortunately, this is it. Any treatments that I might do are going to be too much for my body to handle. I will end up on a ventilator of life support, so I’m going to make the most of the time that I have left.
“I’m very, very scared. Thank you all for joining me on this journey. Stick around and I’ll keep you posted.”
Jessica had shared her TikToks for a little over two years by that point. Most of them have views in the hundreds of thousands, but the hospice video and subsequent videos brought increased attention to her channel.
“I’m just trying to stay positive at this point,” Jessica said. “I do want to share, you know, what I have to go through because you have to have a voice in what happens after you die. Most people don’t get that. I have had a couple of friends that were killed in accidents recently and they were just gone. They didn’t have the opportunity to say ‘goodbye’ or do anything.
“So sharing that with other people, I hope that it helps them appreciate what they have. Their life may be difficult, but if you have your health, then you are a very wealthy person. You have the opportunities to make things better.”
On Feb. 21, Jessica asked her TikTok supporters to help her complete a bucket list item to try beignets from New Orleans.
Author Sherrilyn Kenyon had written about beignets and chicory coffee from Cafe Du Monde in some of her books and that tidbit stuck with Jessica.
“It just struck me one morning that I never had the opportunity to try a beignet and I kind of want one,” Jessica said. “I can’t go to Louisiana; I’m far too sick. So I posted a video to see if somebody could, you know, maybe send me one. I received like a dozen boxes of beignet mix.”
Additionally, the owner of a California food truck that specializes in beignets is flying in just to make them for Jessica, her family, and friends during a private gathering at her home sometime in March.
Jessica has nearly half a million followers on TikTok and her supporters continually send her care packages.
“I get 12 boxes on my doorstep every day of T-shirts and stuff from Mardi Gras, food, stuffed animals, bracelets, crystal, clothing, and cups,” she said.
Someone also anonymously mailed her an Oculus VR headset.
“Because I wanted to go to the Redwood National Forest and I wanted to go to Universal Harry Potter, but I can’t do that,” Jessica said. “Apparently, with these VR goggles, you can. So I’m really excited to check those out.”
As she’s under hospice care, Jessica hopes to live until the weather gets warmer at least because, outside of wearing sweats, she is not a fan of the winter months. She also shared some parting thoughts with Starting Line
“I want to be remembered as someone that was kind,” Jessica said. “That I did my best to bring out the best in people and accept the best in people and I never tried to change anyone. I tried to love people for who they are and—I don’t know, I don’t want to brag—I feel like I’m a good person.
“I wish this wasn’t happening to me, but I know it’s going to be OK. I’m sad to leave behind my family and friends, but I hope they have happy and healthy lives. It’s not fair, but cancer isn’t. It takes no prisoners. It doesn’t care if you are a child, young adult or senior citizen.”
- If you want to contribute to Jessica Hiatt’s medical bills or final arrangements, you can Venmo her at Jessica-Hiatt-88. Find her on TikTok at JessicaChristine6.
by Ty Rushing
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