The Life and Times of Jess Mac





Almost 2 years ago I never thought I’d ever enjoy eating food again, let alone making it. My love for food has been growing ever since then, and so has my enjoyment for making meals. This is a first for me; sauteed shrimp & garlic in butter, then mixed with chopped cabbage, turmeric & mayonnaise, and placed on a fresh artisan roll. #damngood #newchapter #thisisliving #memoirofahollowman #cdh1 #stomachless

Some days I feel like challenging my new digestive system, so today I tried my luck with a KFC Wicked Stix Box Meal…only got the Wicked Stix and fries down in round one, but after sixty-minutes all that happened was a little fatigue and increased heart rate. Feeling fine again now, and although it was far from good for me I call that sucess due to the constant battle I have with gaining weight, so I have to try whatever I can.



            Noodles with butter and cheese.

            My dad’s beloved dinner. The very thing he chose for his last meal with a stomach.

            He found it perfectly delicious. I found it grotesque.

            Simple boxed pasta with Costco canned parmesan and Best Yet butter.

            Cheap, starchy penne with nauseatingly smelly cheese and too much slimy oil.

           For some reason, he loved it. He ate it almost every night, and he craved it after a long day’s work.

           Now he can’t have his favorite food without vomiting.

Hello there!


            My name’s Jess Mackenzie.


             And this is my ridiculous family: my mom Jane, my dad Bob, and my brother Matt.

             I’m a nineteen-year-old creative writing major at Virginia Tech!

             My family has recently been diagnosed with the CDH1 mutation, which causes a disease called Hereditary Diffuse Gastric Cancer. It gives us an 85% lifetime chance of developing stomach cancer that is virtually undetectable until stage four, as well as a 50% chance of getting breast cancer. There might be a link to colon cancer too.

            I’m preparing for my genetic testing that will take place next month, and I have a 50% chance of inheriting the mutation. Most people who test positive opt to remove their stomachs entirely. My dad, aunt, and grandma all had this operation done last month. The doctors didn’t find anything suspicious when my dad went for an endoscopy, but after the surgery they found fifteen foci of cancer cells.  FIFTEEN! That’s scary stuff.

             This blog will chronicle my personal experience with CDH1, starting with the discovery. There WILL be rants. I hope it will help some people with their own journeys! :)

             I’m a proud supporter of No Stomach for Cancer! It’s a really great resource for those of us dealing with HDGC. Their site has a lot of information about the disease and a truly wonderful online community. Check it out! :)



How I Got Here

I’ve been wanting to do this for some time, but even more so over the past twelve months. It’s been hard to find the energy and focus I needed to sit down and record my thoughts and experiences over those months. I’m still not 100%, but as I start to return to a sense of normality or I suppose adjust to my new life, I find myself with a lot of time on my hands, so I felt now is the time to create an outlet where I could share my story. Not just my story from the past several months, although it’s a good place to begin…but other bits and pieces as well as my journey forward. My journey is probably filled with many of the same trials and tribulations, and Joys and accomplishments as you, but then again, maybe not.

So it begins with the title, “Memoir of a Hollow Man”… as you see I have no stomach.

Keep reading