Jennifer Hamilton: My cancer journey

Jenn2014-1

“The hardest part of this is my life completely changing for now. I went from having a busy full-time job, having I what I thought was a great supportive boyfriend and travelling the world to not having any of it.”

Jennifer, 31. was diagnosed with breast cancer on October 20, 2014.

“It was unbelievable and unimaginable to me that at 31, I was sick. I didn’t look sick. I didn’t really feel sick. I was still going out with friends and falling in love with my boyfriend of six months.”

Falling in love didn’t last long though – shortly after her diagnosis, Jennifer’s boyfriend told her he did not want to be with her.

Jennifer knew that breakups were hard, but this time it was different. She said that to have someone you love leave you when you needed them the most was more than heart breaking.

“Luckily, I do have my friends and family who have been there for me through the medical and emotional traumas that continue to follow,” she said.

Jennifer also said that the support from her coworkers, specifically her boss, made all of the difference and made it easier for her to choose to take sick leave right away.

After the diagnosis

Once diagnosed, Jennifer immediately met with a surgeon who she said was both compassionate and comforting. Her cancer had not spread, so she had two surgical options: a lumpectomy with radiation or a mastectomy.

“I chose to have a lumpectomy instead of a full mastectomy, which was an incredibly painful decision as a young, and now single, woman,” Jennifer said.

This November, Jennifer had surgery to remove the lump and it was successful. She woke up from surgery free of the cancerous tumour.

Because of her young age and pathology report, Jennifer will face chemotherapy and radiation treatment at the end of December. She will bring in the New Year with four months of chemotherapy followed by a month of daily radiation treatments.

Jennifer Hamilton today

Jennifer says that there have been a lot of positive moments throughout her cancer journey. This shock has made her re-evaluate her life and realize what her values are. It has also made her realize how many good people she has in her life.

“I have always been a person with lots of close friends and a really close family but this experience has confirmed the love and support I have going for me,” she said.

“I could not get through this without the multiple loving people in my life. I have received support from close friends and family; but also from friends of friends I have never met. I have really learned that a simple, ‘I am thinking of you’ means the world sometimes.”

Jennifer’s advice to women going through a similar experience:

I would like to tell women going through the same experience that there is a light at the end of the tunnel. Every time I have to face a new challenge where I have no idea what I am going into, I look back and realize that it was not so bad… and even if it was bad it could be worse. I am not going to sugar coat it, this has not been easy. Considering the happy person I usually am, I have many sad days, but those come and go as well. I still have many more challenges to face through this journey but I know I will get through it one day. Any other challenges through the rest of my life I know I will have the same outlook!
I have been reading a lot of quotes to get me through this but one of my favourite I have come across is: “There will be many chapters in your life. Don’t get lost in the one you’re in now. “

Are you wondering what Jennifer is up to now? Check out her blog here.

Photo credit: Tanis Brown

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