Winter Haven - When life throws you lemons, you have two choices... either you allow these lemons to ruin your life, or you pick them up and make lemonade. Well, that's exactly what Jennifer Hadsock, a reading interventionist at Lake Alfred Elementary did, when on August of 2017 she was diagnosed with triple-negative breast cancer. She didn't allow life's challenges to define who she was... instead, she picked those lemons up and made the best lemonade she has ever made in her life.
Raised in Winter Haven and in Lakeland by two strong-minded parents, Jennifer always knew the importance of motivation, determination, balance, and goal-setting.
"My mother is a hard-working woman who instilled in me the importance of balance. She also taught me that you could have a successful career and motherhood, and into my adulthood, I followed that path," Jennifer said about her mother. About her father, who recently passed away, Jenifer described him as a man who always took chances... "He was eager to learn and energetic about any task he set out to accomplish. He showed me the importance of motivation, determination, and goal setting which have proved vital as I found myself following my career path and then battling cancer."
A mother herself, Jennifer was presented with one of the most challenging events a mother could face. When she was 18 months pregnant, her firstborn had a life-threatening congenital heart defect and needed immediate surgery at birth. At 36 hours old, he had a 12 hour procedure to switch his aorta and pulmonary vein resulting in his ability to live. He is now a thriving 6-year-old, but those moments of strength have taught her about the power of prayer and a positive mindset. It has also shown her that people can have connections with others that transcend all comprehension.
Around the time Jennifer's breast cancer battle started, it was a normal time in her life. She was breastfeeding her, at the time, 14-month-old son Jackson when she found a lump. With no history of breast cancer in her family, she immediately had a terrible sense that this was something more than a benign lump.
After a week of several doctor visits, she was reassured that her lump was a benign tumor. However, for good measure and following her gut instinct, she decided to have it removed. On Dec 21st, her tumor was removed and on January 2nd of 2018, at her postoperative, the local doctor who removed the "benign" tumor told her he was in shock, and that the pathology had come back with triple-negative breast cancer.
After her diagnosis, she was devastated and immediately called Moffitt where she found out, 7 days later, that her cancer was also in 2 lymph nodes. She was angry, especially since she knew she had tried her best to stay healthy. She drank kale smoothies, she worked out, she didn't smoke, she breastfed both of her babies. She just had no idea how this could have happened to her. She realized eventually that this was not something she had done, so she continued her workouts, she continued teaching 3rd grade, and with the help of her family and friends, she promised she would think positive and get through this.
"My family and friends were a huge support. My husband would get up early to cook breakfast, do laundry, and whatever else I needed him to do. My best friends paid for a service to come to clean my house on my chemo days. My school was fantastic... they organized fundraisers where they sold FIGHT shirts and that kept me motivated. My gym, Habitat Health & Fitness, became my cheerleaders and even dedicated their team challenge to my FIGHT. Then, during my radiation, my friend Melanie chose me for her breast cancer benefit and all the funds helped make my life so much easier. It also helped me stay strong because I knew all these people believed in me," said Jennifer when we asked her about those who were there for her during the difficult times.
As a way of giving back to the community that was there for her when she needed them the most, Jennifer created the POWer in PINK run. "I wanted everyone to know how thankful I am for all that they did to help me in my fight. I wanted them to know I take none of it in vain and appreciate every one. I also wanted to incorporate my love of fitness into giving back while finding a way to keep the funds local. This run, which I hope to make an annual event, will benefit the Breast Cancer Foundation of Central Florida, which helps local women in our community affected by breast cancer," mentioned Jennifer.
When asked about the message that she would like to send to other women who like her are dealing with this situation, she said... "First, I want them to know they are not alone. Breast cancer affects 1 in 8 women and it has an impact on the entire family. That being said; find your happy place, go there, think positive, and though it's tough, don't give up because there is a community of people that will support you. If you need help reach out because the communities of people willing to help is unparalleled."
For more information about the POWer in Pink Breast Cancer 5k, visit our events information on page 4, or contact Jennifer at firstname.lastname@example.org.