Who: Heather Jacoby Ross has stayed positive and always smiling despite knowing what it’s like to stare down cancer multiple times. A graduate of Abington Heights High School and Wilkes University, where she earned degrees in elementary education and psychology, Ross is a South Abington Twp. resident who has been married for 24 years to Brian. They have three kids, Kenndra, Angel and Nico.
What: While on vacation with her family last July, Ross, a teacher at Allied Services’ dePaul School for Dyslexia, found a lump and subsequently learned she had Stage 2B invasive lobular carcinoma, a type of breast cancer.
Ross, who previously faced uterine and thyroid cancers, underwent immediate surgery because of her medical history and this new cancer’s aggressiveness. Doctors found cancerous cells in her sentinel lymph node during the surgery, which led to a treatment plan including chemotherapy and radiation. Ross endured four-hour weekly chemotherapy sessions for 20 weeks and has been doing daily radiation treatments that will last a total of six weeks. Once she finishes radiation treatments, she will undergo a PET scan to see how well the treatments worked. If the cancer has not spread, Ross will have a good prognosis.
While the coronavirus pandemic has meant Ross must attend her radiation treatments alone, her husband, who normally would be by her side, has taken care of her and the household as she fights the disease. She also has found a silver lining among the social distancing: getting to spend extra time with her family.
When/where: In addition to offering prayers, positive thoughts and messages for Ross, the public can help by donating through a GoFundMe page, “Have a Heart for Heather.” Her supporters also have organized a Paint n’ Sip fundraiser, sponsored by Abington Art Studio, for Saturday, Aug. 29, at Chinchilla Hose Company, 113 Shady Lane Road, South Abington Twp. The event also will have more than 50 prizes up for grabs in a raffle. The public is welcome to stop by from 4 to 4:30 p.m., with the painting portion of the event following from 5 to 8. Monetary, food, raffle prizes and other donations can be mailed to Abington Art Studio, 208 Depot St., Clarks Summit, PA 18411.
Why: Ross’ diagnosis and subsequent treatments left her unable to work, and the coronavirus pandemic has added further uncertainty about when she will return to the classroom. Additionally, because her husband is self-employed, work is not guaranteed, which adds worry. Proceeds from the fundraisers will help Ross cover her medical expenses.
In her own words: “She has always believed that life is a gift and every special moment should be cherished. Thanks to inspiration from her mother, Kay Jacoby, Heather’s motto is, ‘I’m staying strong with my lipstick on!’” — Katrina Keiper, friend
Caitlin Heaney West is the content editor for Access NEPA and oversees the Early Access blog in addition to working as a copy editor and staff writer for The Times-Tribune. An award-winning journalist, she is a summa cum laude graduate of Shippensburg University and also earned a master’s degree from Marywood University. Caitlin joined the Times-Shamrock family in 2009 and lives in Scranton. Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org; 570-348-9100 x5107; or @cheaneywest