Survivor Spotlight: Jennifer Preuss

My journey began in July 2021, when I found a mass on my left breast and was diagnosed with Stage 3 Triple-Negative Breast Cancer in August 2021.  I had just had my first mammogram in November 2020, which came back perfectly fine.  They did a unilateral mammogram of just that breast, I then had a breast MRI and finally a biopsy completed. I often think that if I wouldn’t have just happened to feel that spot on my breast that day, my prognosis would have most likely been much worse.  This only supports the need for self-examination in addition to regular mammograms.

How did you find support throughout your diagnosis and treatment?
My main support throughout my diagnosis and journey was first, my amazing husband and children, who continued to make me laugh, helped me in any way possible and motivated me to just keep going, as well as my aunt and uncle, who reminded me daily about how strong I was and how I was going to beat this thing.   My close friends and co-workers were absolutely unbelievable throughout my journey.  From setting up a meal train to ensuring my family had meals delivered throughout the weeks of my treatment, to supportive cards and text messages, to lifting me up in prayer.  These people gave me the courage and strength to keep pushing through, no matter what the challenge of the day may bring and reminded me that I was in no way fighting this battle alone.

What was the hardest challenge you faced?
My hardest challenge was how to face this diagnosis and go through treatment, while still having to be a wife, a mom, a professional and a friend.  My biggest fear was allowing this disease to define me, or to take away the way of life that my family was used to.  So, I faced this challenge head on and kept my life as “normal” as I possibly could.  I continued to work, I attended all of my kids’ sporting events, I still socialized with my friends.  I refused to let cancer take any of this away from me.

Can you share a “bright spot” you experienced along the way?
The bright spot that I experienced along the way is to never, ever sweat the small stuff.  The things that used to cause me stress or upset me mean absolutely nothing anymore.  Another bright spot throughout my journey is the strength and support that I received I can now pass on to others who are just beginning their journey.  I truly believed throughout that this was happening to me for a reason, and I am now realizing that by sharing my story, I can provide strength to others….and not just those diagnosed with cancer, but for anyone that is facing a challenge in their life.  We are stronger than we really ever give ourselves credit for and with the power of positive thinking, we can overcome anything.

Fill in the blank: “Breast cancer has taught me _____________________.”
Resilience, strength and compassion.

What is something you’d like other women facing breast cancer to know?
I would like other women facing breast cancer to know, first and foremost, that you are never, ever alone.  There are others out there that have faced this diagnosis and are more than willing to support you every step of the way.  Another thing that I would like them to know is this disease does not define you, it does not have to take over your life and it certainly is not going to beat you.  You are stronger than it will ever be… you are a million other powerful things before you are a breast cancer patient.

You currently serve as the PBCC’s Cambria opens in a new windowCounty Captain. What made you want to volunteer and what makes you so passionate about supporting our mission?
As soon as I learned about PBCC, I immediately wanted to become involved however I could. I realized a lack of support and education in my area once I began treatment.  There is so much education and push to get your mammogram and make sure you are completing self exams, which is wonderful.  But, I got my mammogram and I did my self exam and now I have cancer… so now what?  I feel that there needs to be ongoing education and support groups around the side effects to expect, not just short-term but long-term, and how to be prepared to deal with those.  Also needed are groups who just go out to dinner or to have coffee or on a walk… ways to help you feel “normal” and provide  a means to just talk, laugh or cry together, but most importantly, empower each other.   I also recognize a need for support for the caregivers and/or children who are facing this journey, too.  Overall, my goal is just to make an impact on one person facing this diagnosis and remind them that they are not alone and they are absolutely going to overcome this.