Wednesday, 24 August 2016

Concert for Jessica

Concert fund raiser for Jessica September 4th 2016,
Scout Hall Jennings Street Noble Park Victoria 11am to 3pm.

If you can get down and support
Jessica as she battles with illness.
Enquiries 9711 1118

Battler Jessica’s band of support
19 August 2016 3:26 PM .

Freda and Jessica Arena. 157859 Picture: STEWART CHAMBERS
The Dandenong Journal

By Casey Neill

The Noble Park community is making a song and dance to help Jessica Arena battle crippling illness.
Rob Wood runs a karaoke group with Dandenong U3A and plays in a rock and roll band.

“Jessica’s mum Freda comes along to our karaoke group and sometimes brings Jessica with her guide dog,” he said.

“They are having huge expenses with things such as taxi fares for hospital visits, so my wife and I decided – with volunteers from the karaoke group – to hold a concert to raise funds to help them out.”

The Scout hall in Jennings Street, Noble Park, will host the event from 11am to 3.30pm on Sunday 4 September 2016.

“I think it’s amazing,” Jessica said.

“No-one’s ever really done anything like this before.”

The 32-year-old started suffering swollen glands when she was seven years old but didn’t have a diagnosis until she was 17.

Doctors discovered her kidney function was at 20 per cent and that she had Sjogrens syndrome.

“It inflamed her whole body and apparently it had attacked her kidneys,” her mum Freda Gentle said.

“They decided the way to stem the inflammation was to put her on high doses of steroids.

“She went from 62 kilos to 112 kilos in a matter of months. She was unrecognizable.”

Three months later, doctors discovered that Jessica needed a new hip.

“The steroids caused her to have a vascular necrosis in the hips,” Freda said.

“They explained to us that it was like a Violet Crumble bar.

“If you wet it, it goes to mush. That’s what happened to her bone.”

Jessica’s kidney troubles continued in the background.

“I put my hand up to give her a kidney,” Freda.

“They found out I had kidney cancer.”

Freda fought cancer while Jessica received dialysis. She received a kidney almost five years later.
“When you’re on dialysis and your kidneys don’t work you don’t urinate. All the fluid was building up in the body,” Jessica said.

“I had eight to 10 litres of fluid in the body, which was affecting the heart.

“I needed heart surgery to release the fluid from the heart sack.”

Post-operation she contracted golden staph and it attacked her new hip.

“The only way they could get rid of the infection was to take out the hip replacement totally,” Freda said.

“She was without a hip for about four years, walking around with a crutch. One hip was five centimeters shorter than the other.”

Jessica did receive a new hip down the track, and had the other replaced also.

But after the infection she lost her peripheral vision and is now legally blind and unable to drive.

Jessica was eventually put on a medication that suppressed her inflammation but had to stop taking it 12 months ago because at $10,000 per six-monthly treatment, it was too expensive.

Call 9711 1118 for more information about the concert.

Visit to support Jessica.