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Glenwood youth takes on recovery with a fighting spirit

Editor’s note: Information for this article was taken from an article by Deb Mercier of the Pope County Tribune.

Jessica Stai of Glenwood is a fighter.

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Whether she’s helping her softball or soccer team go for the win, studying to grab that “A” or showing horses and dairy cattle through 4-H, Jessica, daughter of Jennie Stai and Darrick Stai, gives her all.

Now, it’s that strength that’s helping Jessica through as she fights her way back to the life she knew just a few months ago as an active 14-year-old.

Having just finished eighth grade at Minnewaska Area High School, Jessica is currently at Children’s Hospital in Minneapolis recovering from surgery to remove a cancerous brain tumor.

At the same time, she’s battling posterior fossa syndrome (PFS) – a post-surgery loss of speech and motor function.

Jessica had been dealing with minor headaches, vomiting and other symptoms for some time and had undergone numerous tests with no answers.

Finally, an MRI showed a cancerous tumor, medulloblastoma, growing in the region of the brain at the base of her skull.

Jessica was in surgery at Children’s Hospital in Minneapolis the next morning – the first of four.

The first surgery was to put in a tube and drain some of the pressure. A week later, on May 30, she underwent surgery to remove the medulloblastoma. Surgeons were able to remove the entire tumor.

After the surgery, however, Jessica developed PFS. She has limited movement and cannot speak.

“After surgery it took her a few weeks to open her eyes,” said Jennie. “Now that she can open her eyes, she can communicate by blinking for ‘yes.’”

There’s been some progress in Jessica’s ability to move, too, but “it’s slow,” said Jennie. While Jessica can’t move her arms, she can move her left leg and just recently moved her right leg for the first time.

Jessica’s speech is showing signs of returning as well.

“There are times she can make a noise, and the therapists say any noises are good,” said Jennie.

Two subsequent surgeries were needed to insert and readjust a feeding tube.

As she fights her way back, Jessica works with physical therapists and speech therapists twice a day, and is undergoing radiation and chemotherapy treatment.

At school Jessica is involved in softball, soccer, band, choir, jazz band, jazz choir, advanced math, and averages a GPA of 3.9 to 4.0. She’s also involved in the Wayside 4-H Club.


A benefit is being held for Jessica Stai on Saturday, July 19 from 4 to 7 p.m. at Minnewaska Area High School in Glenwood. The benefit includes a silent auction, bake sale, and BBQ meal. To contribute items or help with the silent auction and bake sale, call Janet DeMuth at (320) 239-4478 or Jody Koubsky at (320) 634-7734.

Donations can also be sent to the Jessica Stai Fund at Soo Line Credit Union in Glenwood.