Contributed by Wheela Sunstrom
Most events in our daily lives go by largely unnoticed, without incident: Trips to the grocery store. Practices for kids’ sports teams. Extracurricular school activities. Even a trip to the nail salon. But for Jenn Andrews, the latter occurrence would send an active woman on an unexpected trajectory, dictating some life-changing decisions and adjustments.
The size of a pea.
The process of getting a pedicure is generally effortless. You pick a color, settle into a comfy seat, and slip your toes into a luxurious pool of warm water. The overall experience is mindless, relaxing, and a welcome reprieve from an otherwise chaotic schedule.
This may explain why then-pregnant Jenn didn’t think much else when her nail technician noticed a small lump on her foot. After all, the inconspicuous bump had never been noticed prior to the pampering appointment. It was classified as untroubling in her mind, and subsequently ignored.
During Jenn’s pregnancy with Baby #2, the lump on her foot grew. And so did the news. Suddenly, the salon visit from several years before went from “treat yo’self” to “you need to be treated”…specifically for a life-threatening, cancerous tumor.
An all-too-familiar story emerged after the diagnosis and initial removal of the sarcoma; remission was followed by an unfortunate return of the tumor. Jenn, unable to run from her diagnosis, had to make a difficult call. Surgeons would perform amputation seven weeks later.
Racing, and beyond…
Now 33-years-old, a mother of 2, and a dog-mom of 3 – there are very few things missing from Jenn’s life. Her foot is certainly not one of those things! The prosthetic she wears is barely an inconvenience compared to living without worry of recurrence. Jenn continues to fulfill her various roles with gusto, while also launching her foundation, Move For Jenn, raising funds for sarcoma research and for amputees needing prostheses.
The next big personal challenge? Jenn set her sights on the Isabella Santos Foundation 5K on September 29th, 2018. It will be her first race since her surgery 5 months ago. And it will be her first run with a new prosthetic.
But Jenn isn’t just running to prove to herself and others that she can do it. While it is admirable (seriously, she’s an inspiration!), Jenn chose the ISF 5K/10K race because rare, soft-tissue cancers like myxoid sarcoma and neuroblastoma are now at the forefront of her mind, having experienced it firsthand. The word “rare” carries new meaning for her, and she realized that rare sarcomas need more attention, more research, and more funding than ever before. It’s why she uses her situation as an opportunity to help others, and why she started her foundation.
Jenn is running for the cancers you don’t hear about often. The ones that “just don’t happen” to people like her. The ones randomly discovered by nail technicians or during routine doctor appointments. The ones that don’t have a cure. Jenn runs for people who don’t have the options she had. She runs for kids like Isabella Santos, who didn’t have options until it was too late. And she runs for people who are out of options, and shouldn’t be.
Join the movement. Join badass inspirations like Jenn. Register for the race at: www.5kforKidsCancer.com.