For those new to Jen’s story, Jen is a two-time cancer survivor now entering into her *third* battle with cancer in just 12 short years. A vegetarian since her early teens who has spent her entire career advocating for the safety and welfare of children, Jennifer is one of the most compassionate advocates and champions for the underdog of anyone I have ever met. What follows is just a glimpse into the extraordinary character and resilience she embodies.
The day before her only child was born, Jen was diagnosed with breast cancer at the young age of 34. She gave birth the next day in the shadow of getting this life-altering news. During what should have been her recovery time from childbirth and bonding time with her newborn, Jennifer was immediately launched into a full year of chaos involving a lumpectomy, radiation, and extensive chemotherapy.
Six years later, in the beginning of 2011, Jennifer slipped and fell on the ice outside her home during a rare winter storm in Dallas. After an ER admission and follow up testing, it was determined that she had a new primary cancer in the form of osteosarcoma. After chemotherapy and multiple leg-sparing procedures and surgeries, Jennifer made the decision to have her leg amputated mid-thigh to ensure the greatest level of survival odds for her case. Whatever it took to be there for her son, who was not quite 6 years of age at the time, Jennifer was going to do it. For reasons we still do not understand, she was somehow released from her amputation with no rehabilitation, no therapy, no follow up or case plan, and zero recovery services within 72 hours of her amputation. Through sheer determination, she taught herself to walk, maneuver, drive, and completely navigate her new life and foreign "mechanisms of movement" entirely out of her own fortitude, after finding (on her own!) a wonderful local prosthetist to assist her functionality. To further complicate her "new life," this second type of chemotherapy she had endured for this second type of cancer was particularly harsh on her body, causing permanent hearing loss for Jennifer in both of her ears.
Now, six years after osteosarcoma and 12 years after breast cancer, Jennifer was visiting her boyfriend in Pittsburgh when she noticed her heart rate was extremely rapid and she was becoming out of breath for no reason. She self-admitted to the local ER, where they discovered via CT that she had a mass in one lung, swollen lymph nodes in the chest wall, a small nodule in another lung, and a second mass on her adrenal gland. To top it off, she was also battling severe anemia.
Having returned home, her longtime oncologist confirmed the CT results via a PET scan performed in his office, and concluded she was facing a likely metastasis of one of her previous cancers. Jennifer had a biopsy of her adrenal gland last week, and the pathology confirmed that it is indeed a metastasis of her second cancer, osteosarcoma, which she was diagnosed with almost seven years ago.
The plan from here will be a tumor "debulking" surgery wherein they will remove all visible tumors from both lungs and her one adrenal gland. The tumors will then be analyzed through genomics testing to see what chemotherapy and/or immunotherapy will best attack and destroy any remaining cancer cells in her body.
Jennifer has repeatedly beaten every set of odds life has stacked against her, and we know she will do it again. While any normal human being would bathe in self-pity at the point of one cancer battle- let alone three different ones PLUS a leg amputation and permanent hearing loss between the ages of 34 to 46- Jennifer remains one of the most selfless, kind, generous, and genuine people on the planet, with her razor-sharp intelligence and demented sense of humor still firmly in check. ;). Currently unmarried and self-employed as a psychotherapist and social worker, none of Jennifer's family or her boyfriend live anywhere close to her home state to be able to provide respite or aid to her on the level she will need. It is a testament to the kind of person and friend Jennifer is that she has a slew of friends ready, willing, and able to help, but even our best efforts fall short of all she will need in the coming months in terms of assistance.
Jennifer's medical regime is evolving with quickly increasing need to finally lessen her caring of others so that she can start concentrating on care for herself. She has insurance, but copays, deductibles and forced reduced income due to overwhelming fatigue, illness and constant treatment are quickly maxing out her savings and income sources. Donations of any amount to help her during this difficult time would be greatly appreciated. Thank you.
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