Meet Jennifer Andress
Jennifer is a 42-year-old breast cancer survivor from Birmingham, Alabama.
Tell us about yourself.
Stay-at-home mom with two sons, ages 6 and 7. Husband Keith, lawyer. Both sons are hearing-impaired and wear cochlear-implants (and are terrific, smart, in school, happy as can be!). I run marathons and will run in New York City this November and Boston in April 2011. I just started doing triathlons. I volunteer at the boys' school, my church and for BCRFA and the Bell Center for Early Intervention Programs (where my boys spent some time).
When were you diagnosed?
When I was 24 weeks pregnant with my second son. (My mom had breast cancer in 2000, and my aunt had it in 2003.) I was 35 and was diagnosed with D.C.I.S. I had a single mastectomy at 24 weeks pregnant. My first son had been diagnosed as hearing-impaired six weeks prior, and it was a recessive gene so we knew baby #2 had a 25% chance to be hearing impaired as well. He was diagnosed at birth. I began radiation three weeks after he was born and had another prophylactic mastectomy and reconstruction four months later.
How has cancer changed your outlook on life?
I just do what has to be done. Deal with it, do everything I am supposed to do, and move on. Mastectomy? Ok. Radiation? Ok. You can apply that to anything, like marathon training. How many miles this week? Ok, I will do it! I am so grateful to our amazing medical community (for both me and my sons), my husband, our family and friends, and our church. I believe and trust in God. I believe I am here to help others. It helps me too, to be able to offer any help or comfort to other people.
What words of encouragement would you share with others with cancer?
You definitely have a journey in front of you. But trust in God and your doctors. Do what they tell you to do. Eat right. Go for a walk. Take care of yourself. Let others take care of you, too. And one day you will look back, and you will be through it. And you will be there to help someone else, who is where you were six years ago.
Support this non-profit in honor of Jennifer:
Breast Cancer Research Foundation of Alabama, bcrfa.org
Please support those battling breast cancer by donating.