Jenny and Wes' StoryJenny and Wes

My husband and I were honored to receive a Joining FORCEs conference scholarship in 2010. When I was 9–11 years old, I watched my mother fight and lose her battle with ovarian cancer. It was a test I never thought I would have to face. At age 27, married for just
a couple of years with a new home and two small children, we thought nothing could hold us back, and cancer was a call we thought we’d never receive. Then, while pregnant for the third time, I was diagnosed with stage 1 IDC with a grade 3 tumor that nearly doubled in size during my first trimester. While pregnant, I was treated with a single mastectomy and chemotherapy. Our unborn child was diagnosed with two birth defects; we were later told she would need 10-12 surgeries before she became an adult. Then I tested positive for a BRCA1 mutation. That led to prophylactic mastectomy and reconstruction of my remaining breast. But my reconstruction failed just one month after complete expansion and I had two emergency surgeries in 2010.

Receiving a FORCE Conference scholarship was like winning the lottery. There is nothing like FORCE: Laughter, tears, talking, listening, heartbreak and mending: you feel it all during the conference. I gained countless friends, a vast amount of knowledge, and most importantly, I now have the strength to make decisions and choices regarding my body. I am now an advocate for my own health and my family’s. If not for the conference sponsors, people like me would be unable to immerse themselves in the critical knowledge so vital to our lives.

I no longer feel like a ticking time bomb. And now I say: “Just because I am BRCA1 positive does not mean I have to be negative.” Thank you, donors, for the knowledge and peace of mind your scholarship funding gave us.

-Jenny and Wes