Jessica Ozment: NCCC Detroit Chapter Leader

My name is Jessica Rivera, I am a mom of 3 beautiful kids and married to my high school sweetheart! I am a medical assistant in downriver Michigan. My love for the medical field grew when I was about 12 years old, my mother Sandra was a CNA and she did do some schooling for paramedics as well. The love for the field grew on to my older sister Tara who was also a CNA for a while, our little sister Deanna even took the course for the class, because she was just as interested. Hearing my mom and Tara both talk about their experience and the love and passion they had helping people is what got me thinking that I wanted to do something. I was unsure what it was but something in the medical field and here I am! I have been in this field for about 4 years now, between being a patient sitter at a local hospital, then I accepted a job on the ICU floor as a Nurse assistant which I loved so much, but because I got pregnant and covid was running rapid at that time, I had to do what’s best and leave. After I had my daughter I took on a job as a medical assistant at a local doctor’s office and let’s just say I love my job, the patients, literally everything about it.

If there is one thing I was scared about in life it would be that I would have disappointed my sister Tara in something I have done. I looked up to her, she was not only my big sister, shewas my first best friend growing up and like my second mother, especially after our mother had passed away. My sister Tara had a leep procedure done in 2015 and everything was in the clear until May of 2022. She called me around 5:00 pm on May 12th, telling me her legs were hurting, feels like there was something stabbing her behind her knee, and that her feet have been hurting her since the end of April when we had our yard sale. I told her to elevate them, and just relax and I will be over shortly to take her blood pressure, well two and half hours went by she calls me at 7:30pm, so confused. She said she did not remember what she did that day, did not remember where she took her son, and if she went to work nothing so I rushed over took her blood pressure, checked her out and had our dad take her straight in to ER. She suffered bilateral stroke and a heart attack, she was in the hospital for a week and on May 19th we found out she had stage 3 cervical cancer.

​In that short 4 months, she suffered multiple strokes, blood clots throughout her body, cancer spread rapidly out of her reproductive system, cancer got moved to a stage 4, her brain was so damaged due to the strokes, and every time we got her set up to get treatment she ended back in the hospital with a new health concern. On September 16th she had a procedure done to look at her heart and we saw how much damage was done, the doctor who performed the procedure called me and told me the news and he suggested a doctor out of University of Michigan to talk to her and see if we can replace her aortic valve. Monday the 19th of September she had her video chat with the cardiovascular surgeon and he told her he didn’t like the way she looked, her breathing looked off and to just come on into the ER right away, my dad ended up taking her and from then on things went downhill. On September 21st my dad called me and my little sister Deanna, and told us that the team of doctors talked over everything and said Tara will not make it. I rushed to pick my nephew up from school, met Deanna and we rushed to the hospital so we can sit with her, and her son can spend some quality time with her. That night, the 21st it was me, Deanna and our dad, we took turns being in the room with Tara throughout the night. First our dad, then me and Deanna, around 5:20 am on September 22nd she started to breath weird and I just knew something was wrong, I rushed to go get my dad he went back there and came back out to tell me to come on, the moment I walked into the door and hugged her, all three of us did she took her last breath at 5:40am on September 22nd and from then on our life, her sons life, people who loved her life was changed forever.

With all this being said, I wanted to do something for her, in her honor to spread awareness that not all cervical cancer shows symptoms, to educate on how important it is to get your screenings done, to stay on top of your health. This is for my sister Tara Lee Ozment, she was only 39 years old when she died, and I will make sure her memory lives on forever.