Jessica Morris, Whose Brain Cancer Was Her Cause, Dies at 57

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Through Our Brain Bank, the nonprofit she founded, Ms. Morris encouraged treating more than just the tumor.

“When you’re suddenly told that you have a condition that is considered terminal,” she said on the podcast the Human Guinea Pig Project in 2019, “the one thing you desperately need is psychological support, and it’s not there.”

She also wanted to ensure that patients had access to and funding for second opinions, so that those who were told “nothing can be done” by one doctor might seek out a more aggressive approach if they chose. She herself pursued several novel approaches, her husband said, including an experimental therapy that one of her doctors had suggested, involving an injection of herpes virus into the tumor in the hope of stimulating a defensive response.

“Even if I don’t know exactly how particular treatments might work — and nobody really does — it kind of makes sense to try and block as many pathways to the cancer as possible,” Ms. Morris explained on the podcast.

Another goal was making it easier for glioblastoma patients to enroll in clinical trials of drugs and therapies. The process of getting into such trials can be cumbersome and frustrating to patients with a limited life expectancy. And since glioblastoma is a complex disease in which each tumor has different characteristics, Ms. Morris and her organization developed an app that patients can use to report symptoms and share information with one another and with medical professionals — as an aid to understanding the disease better.

“Patient symptom data is a largely untapped pool of information that can inform researchers, so they can better design treatments,” Ms. Morris said during a 2019 panel discussion on patient-centric treatments. “Involving patients in that process has the added benefit of providing people with the disease to feel they are managing the disease, and not the other way ’round.”

Jessica Jane Morris was born on July 22, 1963, in Greenwich, near London. Her father, Bill, was an architect, and her mother, Elizabeth (Villar) Morris, is an artist.