Women's Health Advocate

When Jessica’s mother, Stephanie Queller, was diagnosed with advanced ovarian cancer she said to her daughters: “If I get better, I want to help other women with cancer. If I don’t, will you do it for me?”

Jessica made the promise to her mother. And a year after Stephanie’s death, it became clear how she could keep her promise:

Jessica unwittingly found herself the vanguard of the “Previvor” movement.  In 2004, a year after her mother died, Jessica took a cutting-edge genetic test for the BRCA1 mutation, otherwise known as “the breast cancer gene.” The test confirmed Jessica had inherited a mutation from her mom, which gave her up to a 90% chance of breast cancer and 50% chance of ovarian cancer.  

In 2004, the BRCA test was relatively new, and doctors did not know how to advise her.  After doing comprehensive research as her own health advocate, Jessica opted for prophylactic surgeries.  Jessica remembered her promise to her mother -- she made a vow to help other high-risk women prevent cancer before it happened. 

Jessica’s 2004 NY Times Op-Ed piece “Cancer and the Maiden” tackled the complexities of inheriting “the breast cancer gene”, and helped bring this little known topic to light.  The article led to Jessica’s memoir, “Pretty is What Changes”.

Jessica travels the country speaking to large groups about her personal experiences with the BRCA gene.  She has delivered keynote speeches for the annual FORCE conference in Florida, the Bright Pink Gala in Chicago, The Hadassah Medical Breast Care Center in Seattle, and the Premiere Oncology Foundation in Los Angeles. 

Jessica is a passionate supporter of The Basser Center for BRCA at Penn Medicine’s Abramson Cancer Center, and serves on their Leadership Council:

Jessica is also an active supporter of the Get in Touch foundation.