Janet is a 41-year-old breast cancer survivor from Knoxville, Tennessee.
Tell us about yourself.
I’m Executive Editor of Knoxville Magazine and mother to 7-year-old Golden Retriever, Reilly. As a former caterer, I still love cooking and entertaining. I’m always looking for new destinations to visit and have two close friends who keep my social schedule busy with the latest country music concert within a 500-mile radius. I also love great wine, SEC football, my 9-year-old niece, Brooke, and the first signs of fall.
When were you diagnosed?
January 25, this year
How has cancer changed your outlook on life?
I think you miss a valuable opportunity if you’re handed a life-altering experience and don’t capture its meaning and purpose to make a positive impact. I served on a breast cancer board for three years prior to my diagnosis and thought I was fairly educated on the subject but learned there was so much more I didn’t know. That led me to the fact that if I thought I knew a fair amount and, at the end of the day, really didn’t, then I couldn’t imagine how many women have no idea where to begin when they’re first handed the news. That realization led to my decision and willingness to be very public about my experience with breast cancer and allow our NBC affiliate, WBIR Channel 10, to follow my “journey” for a year, including two surgeries. I also started a blog (I’m so behind) and Facebook page called “Kickin’ Cancer’s Ass” which, within a month, had nearly 2,000 friends and became a sight for all cancer patients and survivors to seek support and engage in dialogue. Since my diagnosis, I don’t ask why. I don’t get angry. It is what it is, and I will use my experience to the best of my ability to heighten awareness and help create a direction for women who are looking for answers or simply need support and a safe place to fall.
What words of encouragement would you share with others with cancer?
That while you probably can’t see much beyond the moment and life is forever changed, time moves quickly, and there will be a day in the not so distant future when life will regain its normalcy, and you will emerge a stronger, healthier, braver and more enlightened woman. I made a conscious decision to become as healthy and emotionally strong as I could and truly feel better today than I did before January 25, 2010. Things will happen to you and people will come into your life that would never have otherwise, and those are gifts that should be relished as blessings in a very unfortunate turn of events, because my belief is that there are no coincidences in life.
Support this non-profit in honor of Janet:
University of Tennessee Medical Center Breast Health Outreach Program (BHOP)
Please support those battling breast cancer by donating.