Janel’s Dream Vacation during her Cancer Nightmare

——Janel’s Dream Vacation during her Cancer Nightmare——

A Big Smile and Glasses

Janel truly is a beautiful person, inside and out. On first meeting her, she will flash her million dollar, cheek-to-cheek smile, which just nudge up her dark-rimmed square glasses a bit on the bridge of her nose. She exudes warmth and friendship, and once you are in her life—family or friend—just know, she will have your back no matter what! She is an incredibly loyal, loving, and compassionate person—but make sure to always stay on her good side!

Janel’s heart of gold first impacted me last year when I saw her fundraiser on Facebook for childcare for her daughter while she went to chemotherapy. It struck me since she was not looking for a handout for herself, but just wanted to make sure her daughter was taken care of, while Janel “handled her business.”

Of course, I had to donate since we are family (cousins through marriage)—although, we had never met or spoken before. When I saw her user profile photo, and that huge smile and glasses, I thought to myself, “Well, she looks really nice and super cool!”

Boy, was I way off. Janel is SO MUCH MORE than just nice and cool. This woman is a true powerhouse with an undertone of sarcastic and some silly tossed in. She stays so positive despite what is going on! And if you have not heard her amazing laugh, please tell her a joke because you will not regret it. Laughing with Janel is contagious!

I have seen her, in just these short months of knowing her, go through so much. From losing her beautiful brown hair, finding out more bad news about her cancer, physical fatigue from treatments, allergic reactions, constant doctor appointments, worrying about her fate and the fate of her children, and hoping for the best—but expecting the worst.

Janel and I have spoken a couple of times about how her life has changed since she was diagnosed. She had to stop working, of course. Then, COVID-19 happened, and it became an even more dangerous world, especially for someone immunocompromised such as Janel. It is hard enough as it is to be going through cancer treatment, but then to not have any outlet of enjoyment and be required to stay indoors and away from loved ones is a true challenge and can impact the positive outlook you are already struggling to maintain. The past few months have taken a toll on the emotional morale of Janel and her children. But things seem to be looking up. Here’s Janel’s cancer journey, so far:

Janel’s Story: Her World Crashed Down

On August 26, 2019, Janel received the news that she had cervical cancer. This was a shocking diagnosis for the 35-year-old mom of three (Hope – 15, Austyn – 14, and Kennsley – 3), especially at such a young age. With three little children, and supporting a household that includes her aging parents, it is hard to imagine what Janel must have thought when her entire world crashed down. Being the foundation for her children, and not to mention referee, Janel felt as though the foundation is cracking, and quickly.

At first, the news did not seem “too bad” with the cancer only at stage one. However, after further tests, it turned out the cancer was in a much later phase and had spread through the lymphatic system.

The cancer was now at Stage 4B, which means the cancer has spread to organs further away, such as the lungs. For reference, there are only a total of 4 stages of cancer.

In the later months of 2019, Janel would endure countless cancer treatment therapies, medication reactions, and kidney problems. Additional testing in early 2020 showed a tumor in Janel’s lungs that measured approximately 6mm.  

After additional adjustments to her cancer therapy treatments, Janel now just may have hit a true turning point in her cancer journey.

Now We are Making Progress!

In June 2020, tests showed that the 6mm tumor has shrunk to 4mm. A ONE-THIRD DECREASE IN SIZE! This is amazing news for Janel, and her family!

With the medication cocktail Janel is currently on, and replacing the cisplatin with carboplatin (since the cisplatin gave her an allergic reaction), this may be a great combination of treatments that can continue to decrease the size of the tumor in her lungs, and continue healing throughout her entire body.

Her Hawaii Dream: Janel Marie is feeling hopeful.

One dream that Janel has expressed, as you may have seen from her Facebook post on June 15:

This maybe out of left field but heres my question for everyone of my family and friends.

If i were to plan a trip for my kids and I would anyone be willing to donate, so i can make it as  memorable as possible. Since being a single Mom i haven't been able to take them on trips or surprise them with adventure.

In Janel’s own words, her dream is to take a family vacation. I have asked her where she would like to go, and Hawaii was her answer without hesitation. Your donation will help purchase airfare, hotel, car rental, meals, excursions and other travel expenses incurred during a ten-day vacation in Hawaii (island not yet determined).

The timeframe of the vacation is yet to be determined, provided Janel’s treatments and the current situation with COVID-19. All precautions will be taken to ensure Janel has a trip that does not jeopardize her health.

But with Janel’s body positively responding to treatment and moving in the right direction with a good combination of medication, a vacation in the near future would be a great opportunity for some physical and emotional healing, family bonding, and a chance to make once in a lifetime memories. If you are able, your donation is deeply appreciated.

Lift Janel in Prayer

If you are unable to donate, please lift Janel, Hope, Austyn and Kennsley in your prayers—pray for the Lord to provide healing for Janel’s body, and for peace and comfort during times of worry. Lord, we thank you for the progress that Janel’s tumor has made and ask for continued improvement. Guide the doctors responsible for Janel’s treatment, and give them the knowledge to make positive choices for treatments and continued healing. Amen.

Timeline of Events

July 2019 – Abnormal menstrual symptoms (excessive bleeding and extreme pain)

August 2019 – First doctor’s visit: primary care | Procedure: LEEP (Loop Electrosurgical Excision Procedure) procedure to remove abnormal tissue from the cervix and is usually conducted to confirm a cancer diagnosis

August 26, 2019 – The news that changed everything, “You have cancer.”

September 2019 – Second doctor’s visit: gynecology and oncology | Diagnosis: “You in stage one cervical cancer”

October 2019 – Procedure: PET scan | Prognosis: Cancer has spread to the lymph nodes and spreading to lymph nodes near stomach and neck

October 2019 – Diagnosis: Stage one to Stage 4B

October, November, December 2019 – Treatment: 28 rounds of radiation, four rounds of internal radiation and six rounds of chemotherapy

February 2020 – Procedure: PET Scan | Prognosis: Cancer has spread to the neck and lungs, and there is a tumor in the lungs

March 2020 – Treatment: Started (and ended) KEYTRUDA® (Pembrolizumab) which is an immunotherapy drug to boost your immune system and use your own body to fight the cancer [However, it did not work]

April 2020 – Treatment: Started a chemotherapy cocktail of Avastin® (bevacizumab), Taxol® (paclitaxel), and Platinol® (cisplatin) [Allergic reaction to cisplatin]

June 2020 – Side-effects: Kidney pain, swelling and bladder problems | Procedure: CT Scan

June 2020 – Some good news, “Your cancer is responding to the treatment and the tumor in your lungs has shrunk from 6 mm to 4 mm

July 2020 – Treatment: Started a new chemotherapy cocktail of Avastin® (bevacizumab), Taxol® (paclitaxel), and Paraplatin® (carboplatin) [Replacing the cisplatin that caused the allergic reaction]

We will continue to provide updates on Janel’s cancer journey as she continues her treatments.49361424_1593815280123882_r.jpeg49361424_1593815297722029_r.jpeg49361424_1593815338817032_r.jpeg49361424_1593815355578181_r.jpeg49361424_1593815368548011_r.jpeg49361424_159381540988225_r.jpeg49361424_1593815537612877_r.jpeg


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Alison Lehnberg 
Vista, CA
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