What’s your story?
The biggest story of my life has often been my cancer. It defines me. I had my childhood cancer at five and since then I was known as the girl who had cancer. God kept me here. I know because I was given a 20% chance at survival. I entered a trial and I made it! With all of the treatment there was no guarantee I would be able to have kids. Actually they said I may never. My first pregnancy ended in a miscarriage, so we still weren’t sure I could carry one to term. Now I was known as the woman who had cancer, but got two beautiful children as well. My husband was thrilled because he knew the chances. So 3 1/2 years after my first was born, I found out I had breast cancer. Now I’m defined as the woman who had cancer twice. Getting through all of that was not easy with a 2 year old and a 3 1/2 year old! I worried so much about heredity and my daughter that I did genetic counseling and found out I have no predisposition to cancer. I didn’t have the gene, so my cancer was an anomaly. I went 10 years after that with nothing happening. In 2013 I had terrible pain in my left pelvis. I could barely lift that leg. After a core puncture of my pelvis revealed I had bone cancer. So now I’m a three-time cancer patient. 2016 we found bone marrow cancer! Four cancers? Now 2019 it’s in my stomach and the lining of my spinal fluid!?! So now it’s six! Crazy. But God made me an optimist and I love each day trying to make great memories! Cancer shouldn’t define me. I’m much more than that! I hope I’m remembered for that optimism and having great faith. I want to be remembered as being a great wife and mother. I want people to talk about me as a teacher! I want people to talk about how family oriented I am! I’m dying of cancer, I know the day is coming. I’m not scared to die at all, my faith assures me I’ll be okay. It’s the ones I leave behind I’m worried about.
What makes you nervous about having your pictures taken?
I wasn’t sure I wanted to do this, but would I ever have the chance again? I felt vulnerable, but excited. I know how quirky Jennifer can be, so I scoured the internet for a great piece to wear to the shoot. I ended up with this cute little flapper outfit. For some reason it empowered me. I felt pretty wearing it. I think I loosened up during the shoot (even with the police activity right outside the window). I’m really pleased with how they turned out!
What do you love doing that makes you feel badass?
Well, in my condition now that’s not too much. My condition has markedly gone downhill. So now walking with my walker around the house makes me feel badass. Before I was this ill, I loved trying new things that were exciting like: white water rafting, zip-lining, etc.…
What other badass women inspire you?
I’m at the hospital a lot. Many times, I get to speak with others that have cancer and I would listen to their stories and be inspired! So many others are worse off than me but keep up that brave face. I find inspiration in so many people even out of the cancer “realm.” Like my niece who’s raised her son without a father but has made the most of it and made a beautiful life for the two of them. Now she’s found her fiancé who loves her and her son! I’m so proud! Or my other niece that works with severely emotionally disabled children. She is an angel dealing with so many issues while trying to teach as well! I’m so proud of her as well because then she comes home to 2 daughters of her own along with her husband! That’s pretty badass! Now that I think back, many women in my family carry that badass trait, so I guess it’s been part of my whole life. My nieces are just the latest examples!