CORNELIUS, N.C. - For the first time since delivering twins, a local mother recently diagnosed with eye cancer is speaking out, and only to Channel 9.
Just weeks before she was due to give birth to a baby boy and girl, Jessica Boesmiller received a stunning diagnosis: ocular melanoma.
"I had blurry vision coming home from a staff meeting one night," Boesmiller said.
What she thought was an unusual pregnancy symptom was actually a large tumor in her right eye.
"All I could think about was, 'I can't leave my children,'" Boesmiller said. “I was terrified for what this meant for our life and if I would be able to see them grow old."
The Boesmillers have two older sons who are 7 and 9 years old. They said telling their sons that Jessica had cancer was difficult but the couple tried to do it in a way that the boys could understand.
"Mark has kept a garden for me for a long time and the boys understood pulling weeds and they understood that. So we compared it to a weed in a garden and I had a weed in my eye," Boesmiller said.
Twenty days after her diagnosis, doctors removed Jessica's eye. Right now, she is wearing an eye patch but hopes to get a prosthetic eye.
Three weeks later, on Dec. 22, Piper and Mason were born.
"How are they doing?" anchor Allison Latos asked.
"They're great. Their placenta pathology after the C-section, it went to pathology and came back negative. So the doctors say that they're good and if that was clear we didn't have to worry about them," Boesmiller said.
The family is focusing on the future, including the search for answers to why a rare eye cancer has affected so many families in the Charlotte area.
Past coverage of eye cancer cluster in Huntersville:
- 9 Investigates: Mystery shrouds possible eye cancer cluster in Huntersville
- State to look into possible Huntersville eye cancer cluster after Channel 9 reports
- Officials: No definitive cause in Huntersville eye cancer cluster
- Huntersville leaders asking for new steps in possible eye cancer cluster
- Doctors offer free exams for former Hopewell students worried on eye cancer
- Environmental testing possible at school after eye cancer cluster
- Testing firm hopes to get to bottom of Huntersville eye cancer cluster
- Report finds no hazards at school in center of eye cancer cluster
- Testing for eye cancer cluster to continue at Hopewell HS, officials say
- Rare eye cancer cases grow to 17 in Huntersville
- Doctor studying 2 dozen reported Huntersville cases of rare eye cancer
Boesmiller will participate in research to find a cause and cure. The couple hopes their story encourages others to get regular eye exams.
"To catch these freckles early before they become large tumors," Boesmiller said.
The couple also said they trust God and are relying on prayer through their journey.
And while the tumor was aggressive, tests showed that, for now, the cancer has not spread to other parts of Boesmiller's body.
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