|Having some fun at the Taste of SRS together:-)|
Monday, February 18, 2013
She Inspires Me.
She Inspires Me.
She works a full-time job while running a household with three busy children, attending most all of her children’s sporting events and extracurricular activities, taking and dropping off her kiddos to practice, volunteering at their school and always offering to help.
Her infectious smile and personality LIGHT up a room. She is the first to walk over and greet you and ask how you are doing. She has a way of making those around her feel good.
One thing you would not know is that Jennifer has been battling Stage 4 colon rectal cancer since December 2010. She does have a family history of colon cancer but had no symptoms when she was diagnosed at age 43, and it had already metastasized to the liver and lung. The doctors were able to take out the diseased colon but are still managing the liver and lung. She has been told her cancer is manageable, not curable.
Jennifer inspires me: the way she lives her life, her infectious smile and personality, the LIGHT she gives to others. My watching her live her life with cancer really puts things into perspective.
Over the last few months, I have become a lot closer to Jennifer. She has a son in the 5th grade with our son. Jennifer also works at a promotional company and helps me with various merchandise for my company, Shine On.
One day, we got into a deeper conversation of her condition and how she chooses to live her life. Her positive attitude and the way she handles her cancer is evident even from her initial reaction to her diagnosis. She said when the doctor first shared the news, “I was glad they discovered it when they did so they could treat it. And I also felt a sense of happiness. I was happy it was me and not my mom or a sister or family member. I knew I could handle it. I was ok if I was the example to the rest of the family. It made my two brothers and two sisters go get a colonscopy.”
She discussed with me how important she thinks attitude is on her cancer journey. She feels it is almost all mental. She said “you can make yourself have a great day or you can make yourself have a bad day.” She thinks hospitals are depressing and tries to stay away from them. She doesn’t like to see people on ventilators, etc. When she goes in for treatment, she doesn’t like to hear other people’s stories about their cancer treatments. She wants to be there for people; but, if she is not careful too much of the negative talk can take over. So, she likes to stay away from it to help manage her journey. She says some people “let it take over their lives and it is their life”. Jennifer said cancer is “part of her life” but not “her life”.
That is why she said although she knows support groups help some cancer patients, her family and friends are her support group. She doesn’t want to go to a group session and listen to depressing stories. If she needs to talk to someone, she shares her stories or feelings with a family member or friend and then moves on.
She did share that chemotherapy is challenging. She continues to work and will take a day off to have therapy and then will go back to work the next day. But, she said she doesn’t feel good for about 2-3 days following the treatment.
Getting the best quality of life is important to her. Quantity is important too with three children but she is aware that she may not live as long. She wants her family to continue to see her be strong.
I asked her how she feels that having cancer has changed her. She said she always had a positive outlook on life and a positive attitude so that helped her deal with the diagnosis and journey but the cancer has changed her positively as well. She said she feels like she takes things on a lighter level. Her stress level has gone down. She realizes what’s important and doesn’t stress over the little things. She is much more light hearted and can laugh at herself. She said she has noticed her kids always are saying now, “Mom, you are always laughing.”
She also realized how much people care about you, and to accept the help. For the first 6 months of her diagnosis, a mother at St. Raphael organized a ‘meal train’. So, for about 5 nights/week, a family at SRS would drop a meal off at their house for dinner. She said it was so helpful and it meant so much to her that people cared that much.
Not only having a positive attitude and a strong support system; but Jennifer said her faith in God has been instrumental in her journey. She puts her trust in God. She knows there is a reason why she was chosen for this and feels it is in God’s hands. When she was in the hospital the very first time…she prayed and prayed that she would just get out of the hospital and be able to live a normal life. And she feels her prayers were answered.
Jennifer, you are a model for us all…from your initial reaction to your diagnosis, your positive attitude, your selflessness, your self- awareness, your openness, your honesty and your strength. You show us all that anything is Possible. That having a challenge in your life doesn’t mean it has to become your life. You give us perspective.
You SHINE with grace and strength.