Thank you for visiting Jenni's GoFundMe page. Please take a few minutes to read Jenni's story below, and know that the Ripley's are so very grateful for any help they receive.
February 8th, 2018 rocked my world.
In the days/weeks preceding that day, I fell into a depression as I had this realization that something was very wrong with my body. I was feeling out of control from not knowing what it was, or how to make it disappear on my own. My head spun with "worst case scenario" situations. I started to imagine my kids lives without me, and who would step up to my role so that they would be well taken care of. Heart. Wrenching. As I put on a public smile through my dark thoughts and painful moments, I was in denial that the obvious first move would be to see a doctor. So I waited... and waited. Finally I came to a decision - I had two choices: Step up, reach out, be courageous, and get help; OR stay in a state of depression and sorrow, and eventually let it overtake my mind and my body.
I said a tear-filled prayer I'd never prayed before. I asked God to take this fog called "pride" away from my conscience so I can have a clear mind on how and where to proceed. A few days later, God pulled through. A sweet friend of mine stopped by and suggested a doctor she knew at a clinic in Woodbury. I called them, shaking (literally!) and almost burst into tears when I told them that something is wrong and I just didn’t know what. Somehow speaking those words out loud made it more real. The lady on the other end of the line had the most comforting tone and immediately helped me to feel at ease. She was my Angel. I knew in my heart that God had led me to the right place. A couple days later I had a consultation. The doctors felt my symptoms were worthy of some further tests. When the results came in, it was clear that my intuition served me correct: It was cancer.
The bright light in this diagnosis was that it seemed to be an early catch - yay! While the cancer may have been affecting me for quite some time, its not aggressive, which means it hasn't overtaken any major organs - which I was imagining in my "worst case scenario" phase.
When most people get a cancer diagnosis, what they don't realize is that they have a choice in how to get rid of it. Because of my brother having almost the exact same diagnosis only two years prior, this choice is something I was very aware of. I knew from the start that I was going to fight this completely unconventional. The invasive surgery-chemo-radiation option (AKA cut-poison-burn) was not for me. I didn't want to be secluded from my children, or confined if they got sick, because chemo breaks the immune system down so badly that I could die if I caught their cold - no exaggeration. I didn't want them to see me so sick that I couldn't do anything with them, in an effort to HOPEFULLY climb out of disease for the time being. I chose to build my body up while killing cancer, instead of tearing it apart. I chose HEALTH. I. chose. LIFE!
At first I was pretty apprehensive to tell people my plan. Because of general unawareness to this treatment method, I figured I'd get a lot of negativity in response. I wanted to keep private about everything from my diagnosis, to my treatment. Eventually though, the news started to make its way around town, and I figured everyone just needed to hear straight from me about what was going on. I was delightfully overwhelmed with an incredible amount of support from so many people!! I even had several nurses coming to me and saying "good for you and your decision to treat naturally!" and "I wish more people would treat cancer the way you're doing it". I did not expect that. Many wanted to follow my healing journey, and some even said that they'd like to see how it works for me so they'd be inspired to make the same decision if they had to. I did not expect that either. It was mind blowing!
While this was all welcome support, the stress and anxiety started to creep in when I realized the mounting cost of my medical care, and treatment plan. One night I started crying to my husband while I was crunching numbers and I said "I'm so sorry I got cancer and now I completely messed up our finances!" Of course he told me to stop - "we will figure it out, I'll just work my butt off even more". Well if any of you personally know my husband, then you know that it's impossible for him to work any harder than he already does. I cannot put more burden on him! As options for saving and making money to put towards treatments started to creep into my mind, I was all over the place with radical options; No sports for the kids this year, have a big garage sale, cancel the family road trip to Wyoming to visit relatives that we promised the kids, get another job, rent out a room in our house, accept more money from family.... OR a combination of all of these! But it just isn't fair for my kids to be punished just because mommy is sick. I cannot disrupt their life any more than I already have.
From the beginning, my sister in law, and my best friend wanted to host a benefit on my behalf; and from the start, I said no! It's not that I didn't like or appreciate the idea, I just didn't feel worthy of something so extravagant. I'm not that big of a deal! I'm just a small town mom that has a sick body, I'll figure it out. There are so many more people in the world (at my clinic alone) that are so much more sick than I am - so I don't deserve that! But the truth is that when it comes to the money, I just can't figure it out without cutting corners in my treatment. I'll either find a way to come up with the money and go into more debt, or just be sicker for longer! My out-of-pocket costs have already come equal to the amount I owe in student loans. Every time I need to go to my clinic for treatments, its $300 out of pocket - weekly. And, lets be real - insurance doesn't cover your grocery bill, which has doubled because of my extremely strict and modified diet. Remember though - "Food Is Medicine" and I do not regret my choices.
This experience is teaching me a lot about myself. I've discovered that I've become prideful to a fault. I never want anyone to think or feel like I need help in any way. I've put everyone's needs before mine (and I mean, everyone!) because again, I've never felt worthy of being the one that's cared for. So finally, I prayed again. I gave it to God. After receiving peace over the thought of a benefit I came to the decision that I cannot be prideful, and I'm worthy of help. I'm worthy of something special. I'm worthy of love from others! I'm not "just a mom". I'm three beautiful children's caretaker, boo boo kisser, school lunch packer, homework helper, butt wiper, and hug & kiss giver. I'm someone's daughter, someone's sister, someone's friend, someone's granddaughter, someone's wife, someone's inspiration, and hopefully I'm someone special to you!
- Jim Otto
- Nick Chaix
- Sarah Jaworski
- Haley Luberts
Organizer and beneficiary
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