Pregnant mother battles rare eye cancer concentrated in Huntersville area

CORNELIUS, NC (WBTV) - It feels like Christmas in the Boesmiller house - ornaments hung, stockings up, and some spirited games played near a burning fireplace.

Still, this Christmas, for the family, will be different.

Jessica Bosemiller works at the local YMCA in Cornelius and her husband is a Charlotte and Cornelius firefighter.

The cancer she has is so rare that only about 2,000 people are diagnosed in the United States each year, yet WBTV spoke with doctors who say there is a concentrated number of cases showing up in this area.

"I had this tumor, and I wanted it out," the mother says.

Jessica was diagnosed with a rare eye cancer, Ocular Melanoma, just over a month ago.

"Confusion. Is this happening? Are you kidding? It was so out of left field," she said.

The mom of 9-year-old Caleb and 7-year-old Connor had her blurred vision in one eye checked out and before she was diagnosed with the cancer.

"We'll fight all we have to fight, but I've got bigger priorities right now," she said.

That includes twins set to arrive a few days before Christmas. They're the reason Jessica decided to have the cancerous eye removed, just weeks before her due date.

"Mama ain't got time for that. We've got to move on," she added.

The Ocular Melanoma Foundation says only 2,000 Americans are diagnosed each year but there has been a noticeable increase of cases in and around the Huntersville area.

Dr. Mike Brennan is part of a grant-funded study looking into what might be causing this concentration.

"An unusual number of patients, in particular young women," Brennan said.

He says this kind of cancer usually shows up more in older men, another reason it's so odd Jessica is now battling the cancer.

"To have all these girls under thirty, drew a lot of attention," he added.

As that study continues, the community is supporting this family with big fundraisers and small gestures.

"Maybe that makes just a little bit of difference in a terrible time," Cornelius fire captain EJ McCormick says.

The Boesmillers insist, that it does.

"You never really know how it's going to affect somebody but they have just wrapped their arms around us," Jessica Boesmiller says.

Jessica is set to have her twins in ten days. They'll have to wait until after she gives birth to find out if the cancer has spread anywhere else in her body, or to the babies.

She says she decided to share her story because she wants to encourage others to go to the eye doctor and get tested.

Anyone who would like to help the Boesmillers can do so here: https://www.gofundme.com/2gj98-caring-for-jessica-and-her-family

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