Saturday, July 12, 2014

Local woman refuses to let cancer slow her life down

2013-12-12

By

When Jennifer Freeman planned her wedding, she didn’t plan on spending her honeymoon undergoing a double mastectomy at Piedmont Fayette Hospital. A diagnosis of an aggressive form of breast cancer, called triple negative breast cancer, may have altered her honeymoon plans but she didn’t let it stop her from marrying Matt, the love of her life.
“Being diagnosed with cancer gives you a whole, new outlook on life,” said Freeman. “Things you thought were really important suddenly don’t seem so important. Matt and I knew we wanted to be together no matter what and we wanted to face this challenge together as husband and wife. We knew we had found love and the wedding was another step closer to everything being okay again.”
Before she tied the knot in August, Freeman went through four rounds of chemotherapy. The treatment caused her to lose her hair and she sported a blue bandana at the ceremony. Then, just six days after the wedding, Freeman checked in to Piedmont Fayette and had surgery to remove both breasts.

“I was scared to death at first,” said Freeman. “But my doctors eased my fears and helped me realize that my diagnosis was not a death sentence.”
Triple negative breast cancer, which accounts for approximately 15 percent of all breast cancer cases, is one of the most aggressive types of breast cancer and is often difficult to treat. Freeman turned to her faith and looked to her grandmother, a 53-year breast cancer survivor, as her inspiration for beating the disease.

“The treatment of breast cancer has become much more complicated as new therapies have been found,” said Jonathan Bender, M.D., Freeman’s oncologist at Piedmont Fayette. “We now recognize at least three important markers on breast cancer cells. When a breast tumor is identified that does not have any of these markers, it is known as ‘triple negative,’ which is known to only respond to chemotherapy.”

Freeman credits her support group for helping her through her battle with breast cancer. Her husband Matt put his business on hold to help care for her and their six children. Freeman’s family and friends even organized a charity bike ride in her honor. Today, Freeman is cancer-free and is close to completing her treatment.

“A coworker of mine who was diagnosed with breast cancer a month before me said, ‘God only gives the hardest battles to the strongest warriors,” said Freeman. “I believe there is so much life after cancer – it’s a fight worth fighting! “I want to show other women that cancer is not the end. It’s just another step.”

For more information about cancer services at Piedmont, visit piedmontcancer.org.

 

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