With heartfelt admiration for her indomitable spirit and unwavering resilience, we are honored to introduce Jessica Izzi to our readers. As a cherished member of the 27 Miles Malibu family, her dedication and commitment have always shone brightly. However, it's her remarkable journey in battling cancer, and her triumph in the face of adversity, that truly illuminates her bravery. Despite the formidable challenges she has confronted, her enduring strength as a mother and an employee has touched the hearts of everyone around her and serves as a beacon of hope for those facing their own trials. In honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, we asked Jessica a few questions about her battle and triumph over breast cancer.
Q: Can you briefly tell us about your role at 27 Miles Malibu and what you do there?
A: I have been the West Coast Sales rep for the last 10 years and recently transitioned into an in house role of sales manager. My health hasn’t allowed for me to fully step into the role yet, but I look forward to being more involved in 2024.
Q: You've had an incredible journey over the past year. Can you share with us when and how you were diagnosed with cancer?
A: I was weaning my 2nd baby from breastfeeding and found what I thought was a clogged duct. When it didn’t resolve after a couple weeks I went to the Doctor. Unfortunately, he dismissed my concerns saying it was most likely breast feeding related and that I should give it more time to resolve. That didn’t sit well with me so I called back to get a second opinion from another Doctor. She took it seriously and her swift action likely saved me from becoming stage 3 or 4. I had an ultrasound and mammogram within a week of seeing her and shortly there after a biopsy and an official diagnosis of Stage 2 Invasive Ductal Carcinoma Triple Negative Breast Cancer.
Q: How did you initially react to the diagnosis, and what thoughts and emotions were going through your mind?
A: The initial emotions were that of shock and disbelief. I’m only 36, I have 2 young kids, how could this happen to me? Why me? Seeing everyone around me so sad about my diagnosis made me feel like I had to be a lot stronger than I really felt at first, but realizing how many people cared f gave me strength. I didn’t want to let anyone down esp. my family so then I just kind of went numb and said “okay what’s next? How do I beat this?”
Q: Whom and what did you think of first?
A: I thought about my kids, Olive and Ozzie (7 months and 2 years old at the time) and my husband. All I could think about was that I wasn’t going to get to watch my babies grow up.
Q: What were some of the key support systems, both at work and in your personal life, that helped you navigate your cancer journey?
A: Work-Ernie and Emily have helped me so much and have been so supportive through this journey. They have been picking up the slack for me as I’m not functioning at 100%. My former business partner , Taylor, has been so helpful during markets. My buyers have also been so supportive and understanding.
Family- I am blessed with an amazing support system at home. My husbands parents live down the street and my parents ended up moving in with us so I had tons of help with my kids on the days I wasn’t able to care for them. My husband has been my rock through this as well as my sister.
Friends-my friends have truly been amazing. Sending gifts, flowers, cards, checking in, etc. Overall, I am so unbelievably lucky to have the amount of support that I’ve had during this.
Q: What motivated you to keep going and maintain a positive outlook throughout your treatment?
A: I’m generally a pretty positive person so I try to maintain that outlook throughout all of my treatments knowing that I have to do this in order to live. It doesn’t do any good to dwell on the diagnosis and treatment, so I just powered through. I still have 30 rounds of radiation to complete starting next month, but i’m relieved I’m done with chemo and double mastectomy surgery.
Q: Were there any particular moments or experiences during your treatment that stand out as especially impactful or memorable?
A: Hardest moment- going to the hospital with neutropenic fevers 2 chemo rounds in a row. Shaving my head and getting used to being bald. Most Emotional Moment- Ringing the bell after I finished 16 rounds of chemo.
Q: How has the 27 Miles Malibu team supported you during your journey?
A: Unfortunately this isn’t the first time we’ve dealt with cancer at 27 Miles. We lost an employee, Elmer, several years ago to Leukemia. Ernie and Emily were so supportive to Elmer during that time as they have been with me as well. They have always treated their employees like family and I couldn’t ask for a better work atmosphere. Emily has turned into quite the sales woman in my absence!
Q: You're an inspiration to many for your resilience and determination. Are there specific practices or routines you've adopted to maintain your physical and emotional well-being?
A: It’s so easy to spiral and let cancer consume you so having a positive mindset has been crucial. Some things I do to maintain my mental and physical health are taking Zoloft, walking, pilates, cooking, playing with my kids, working. Having a plan in place for the day also really helped. Also, when I felt up for it, I was able to take trips to LA to work, see friends and eat at my favorite restaurants and I very much looked forward to those times. The medications associated with Chemo caused me to gain weight so I’m looking forward to getting back to a healthier version of myself. Finally, what do you hope others will take away from your story and your journey? Cancer doesn’t care who you are. I didn’t think it would happen to me and here I am 8 months into my battle at 36 years old. You have to be your own health advocate. Cancer has shown me that I am stronger than I ever imagined I could be. It will take time to accept this new version of myself (bald and boobless) and trust my body again, but I know it will happen over time. If you do find yourself in this position, know that you too are stronger than you think and you will make it through. This will just be a little paragraph of your story, not the entire book.
In honor of Jessica's story and the CDC estimated 240,000 women a year diagnosed with breast cancer, Jessica designed a sweater in her favorite fit and style that sports the iconic breast cancer awareness pink.
The Jessica sweater is now available for purchase from now until the end of the holiday 2023 season.