As a devout Catholic and a true believer in prayer, Jenny knew that when she was diagnosed with breast cancer she would not have to go through the arduous journey alone. Diagnosed at the age of 46 with inflammatory breast cancer, Jenny’s main concern was how this was going to affect her family, particularly her daughter’s senior year in high school. With the support of her husband John of 28 years, and three children, Jenny embarked on a journey, one in eight women in the United States, will go through. A journey of strength, a journey to survive, and ultimately, a journey of love.
Jenny was diagnosed on October 18, 2011. Sharing the phone with her husband, she heard those echoing three words: “You have cancer.” Because of the aggressiveness of her breast cancer, Jenny began chemotherapy shortly after being diagnosed. She recalls the day her hair fell out. Looking forward to spending a rare evening out with girlfriends, she was surprised and ultimately saddened that huge clumps of hair began falling out as she showered. Dismayed and awakening to the dire fact that yes, indeed, she was fighting cancer, she cancelled her outing. She recalls how several of her son’s fraternity brothers made the six hour trip with him from WSU to participate in the annual Come Walk With Me 5k – in support of their friend’s mother. Jenny’s daughter’s soccer team wore pink to show their love for a team mom. Her other daughter’s basketball team even made a banner with Jenny’s name on it, all the while wearing pink jerseys during the game. Time and time again, a commitment of support from family and the community.
In March of 2012, five short months from diagnosis, Jenny experienced another life-changing event. She underwent a double mastectomy followed by six weeks of radiation. She tells of the exhaustion, and her goal to keep working at the family business. A beacon of light was getting well enough to enjoy a family vacation to Hawaii shortly after completing her radiation therapy. Jenny says how liberating it was to not wear a wig while on vacation. Not wanting anyone to think that she was a boy, she bought a special ring and continues to wear it to this day.
Faith being so central to Jenny’s life, she says praying for her caregivers was always at the forefront....for their knowledge and their skills as practitioners. She praises the sincerity, warmth and compassion of Drs. Feucht and Liao, and Good Samaritan Breast Cancer coordinator Donna Banks, who provided friendship and a post surgical camisole after her surgery. Not only having wonderful caregivers, but a huge support system of family and friends has gotten Jenny through a challenging time in her life. Thanks to the coordination of her cousin, Karin, an RN at MultiCare’s Mary Bridge Children's Hospital, nearly 75 relatives and friends walked for Team Jenny at last year’s Come Walk With Me 5k.
Nearly two years after being diagnosed, Jenny recalls a special toast her and John share in the evenings, he always says “Cheers to your health, and Jenny responds confidently, “Cheers to life.!” Like a butterfly, evolving and finding inner strength and a will to survive, Jenny has emerged into a beautiful woman who doesn’t sweat the small stuff any longer. Jenny is a happy, blessed survivor.