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Chris Smith: She got her RV and thanks many at Piner, in Sonoma County and beyond

Her health is a real struggle. But Jessica Buscho couldn’t be feeling much better about what people at Piner High School, all through Sonoma County and beyond have done for her and her family.

More than 600 individuals responded to Jessica’s unusual but potentially life-or-death request for help to buy a recreational vehicle.

The 2001 Piner grad, former candidate for Miss Sonoma County, mother of three and warrior against Stage IV colorectal cancer didn’t want an RV for road-tripping.

She needs a camper so that she can get to clinical trials in Orange County without risking exposure to COVID-19 at motels, restaurants and public restrooms.

“We ended up getting almost $51,000 in donations,” Jessica said by phone from her home in Contra Costa County, the emotion clear in her voice. That money has allowed her family to purchase from a dealership in Fairfield a dandy of a motorhome worth far more.

“We walked away debt-free, which is unusual for families with critical medical issues,” said Jessica, who’s 37 and whose last name was Campbell when she grew up in Santa Rosa. She still considers Sonoma County her home, though work opportunities some years back took her family to Brentwood.

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THE RV CAME to her family through dollars that folks from all over Sonoma County and beyond mailed to her home or donated via the GoFundMe page she’d created. Jessica tells of being especially touched by the contributions and the messages of caring and encouragement she received from former teachers and other staffers at Piner.

“It felt like a big hug,” she said.

Athletic all her life, Jessica ran cross-country at Piner, and captained the school’s team. She continued to run for as long as she could after she was diagnosed with metastasized cancer in April 2017. She was then 33.

Since then, she has endured more than 40 sessions of chemotherapy and she’s undergone brain surgery. She was elated earlier this year to be accepted into a promising clinical trial at UC Irvine, but the pandemic made a huge challenge of her getting to and staying in Orange County.

With tumors in her lungs, for her to suffer the respiratory consequences of COVID-19 would almost surely be fatal. To minimize potential exposure, when she and her family drove for the first time to Irvine last spring they did their best to avoid public places. Jessica and her husband, Justin, rented a house that cost them more than $3,000.

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’I’M NOT A PERSON to ask for money,“ Jessica said. But she found no alternative to requesting help to purchase an RV that her family could drive to Orange County, and could live in there.

The response blew her away. “I think about 610 people contributed,” she said. Among her many angels was the young North Bay Cancer Alliance (northbaycancer.org), which sent her $500 and one of its Strength blankets.

The staff at Cordelia RV in Fairfield read of her need for a camper and contributed $500 toward one. Then, the dealership went a huge step further and launched a search for nice, low-mileage, not-too-big, not-too-small motorhome.

Finding one in Las Vegas, a 25-foot Coachman Leprechaun, the people at Cordelia RV brought it to California, cleaned and serviced it and sold it to the Buschos for about $20,000 less they could have gotten in a conventional sale.

Next week, all five members of the family will travel in the camper to Orange County and Jessica will undergo treatment in the clinical trial.

It won’t be a vacation trip. But try telling that to Gianna, Connor and Brennan, whose mom is determined to continue traveling through life with them for a good, long time.

You can contact Chris Smith at 707 521-5211 and chris.smith@pressdemocrat.com.

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