Tessa’s Story


Tessa Paprocki

June 29, 1980 – June 24, 2009

On October 27, 2008 Tessa Paprocki was diagnosed with stage 4 breast cancer only 11 days after giving birth to her first son Landon. After months of complications caused from the cancer and chemo therapy, friends and family gathered in support of Tessa before removing her from life support.  On Wednesday June 24, 2009, just 5 days before her 29th birthday Tessa passed away to be with her Heavenly Father.

It would be tragic indeed, if Tessa’s life were to be characterized by a deadly disease rather than the journey we believe she continues even now. Tessa’s death is tragic and incomprehensible, but her life was neither. We believe there is a danger if we, as her family and friends, stop with memories of Tessa. Beyond the reminiscence of her, there are the lessons from her.

Tessa was a young, healthy and vibrant 28 year old woman, who was just starting her life with her boyfriend Adam and his 2 kids. Tessa was a wonderful 2nd Mom to Chase and Lily; she loved them with all her heart. On February 14, 2008, she joyfully called her family to tell them that she was pregnant. She was somewhat scared but so very happy that she was going to be a mom herself. Her family was growing and it filled her with joy. Tessa had a very good pregnancy until her seventh month when she found a lump in her right breast. She made an appointment to have it checked out and her doctors told her that it was just clogged milk ducts. By the eighth month, the lumph had taken over her entire right breast. On October 16, 2008, after several hours of labor, Tessa had to have an emergency C section as the baby was in distress. Three days after having her son, Tessa’s stomach had started to swell. Her staples had to be removed as the doctors thought that she was having some internal bleeding. They took her to have a CT belly scan to check for bleeding, this is when they found a mass on her liver. The Doctors ordered a chest CT scan; this is when they found the mass on her breast.

A biopsy was done on October 20, 2008; Tessa was told that she had breast cancer. Monday October 27, 2008, Tessa and her family were given additional news that she was in Stage 4 breast cancer (in her right breast, lymph nodes, bones and liver). Tessa’s first chemo treatment was on Wednesday October 29, 2008, were she went into anaphylactic shock just minutes after her second chemo drug was administered. She was rushed down to the ER where they had to restart her heart. Here is the first of many lessons we learned from her: she was a fighter. Her battle for life transcended any personal hardship…and she went through a hell few of us will ever encounter. There are those that will say she lost her battle with cancer. Even implying the disease won. But we watched her fight. She did not lose. She never gave up hope.

On November 3, 2008, in the midst of her fight, Adam and Tessa were engaged!

During this time, Tessa was in and out of the hospital due to complications from the chemo treatments, dehydration, bleeding internally, or her platelet count was too low. In April 2009 she had to start having her belly tapped (paracentesis) every four to seven days, because her liver wasn’t functioning properly. On Monday June 22, 2009, Tessa was admitted to the hospital for very severe stomach pains. Tuesday night, she was transferred to the ICU unit as her blood pressure had dropped dangerously low and then was put on a ventilator. Wednesday June 24, 2009 the family was told that they should consider taking Tessa off of the ventilator as the longer she stayed on it, the greater the risk of cardiac arrest. We discussed this as a family and decided that this was best. As the news was spread about Tessa, more of her friends arrived at the hospital so that they could go in and say their goodbyes.

Tessa was able to see her son take his first steps by himself. She did not get to hear him call her Mommy. But here is the second lesson we have learned from this remarkable woman: she was a lover like no other. She gathered those around her and never failed to speak an encouraging word. And so we tell her story of “Fight Like A Girl” because her son lives on despite her death and her spirit triumphs each day…and because our world needs that kind of faith more that we will ever know.

 We Miss and Love You with All Our Hearts.

Paprocki Family and Friends

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