Women's Health

No Time For Cancer

It’s enough of a challenge to get through the day as a single mother, but acting as sole provider for three young children (autistic twins) while working full time and attending nursing school is far beyond that. Add to that a breast cancer diagnosis and you’re getting closer having an idea of what Jennifer Delehanty has managed in the past year.

A Life Changing Discovery

It was on a normal, busy day that Jennifer discovered her cancer.   She had been running errands in her mini-van (which she endearingly calls her “mom van”), and afterward, decided to take a shower. While showering, she felt a lump on her breast that alarmed her enough to call her parents to come over and check it out. 

Jennifer’s parents urged her to contact a physician, so she called Stephen Schuermann MD, of Samaritan Obstetrics and Gynecology, who felt the lump, which was in an unusual spot for breast cancer. Regardless, Jennifer received a mammogram and the results were positive for breast cancer. “When you hear you have cancer, you think it is a death sentence,” Jennifer says.  

Jennifer's Next Steps

Erik Dunki-Jacobs MD, of Group Health, performed Jennifer’s biopsy and let her know she had stage 2 invasive ductal carcinoma cancer. Invasive ductal carcinoma (IDC) is the most common form of breast cancer. Jennifer, now 35, has no family history of breast cancer and did not perform self-exams. Prior to her cancer diagnosis, the only time she received a breast exam was during her annual visit with her OB/GYN.  

As a single mother and a patient care assistant for Hospice of Cincinnati, Jennifer has devoted her life to caring for others, so she says it’s difficult to let others take care of her for a change. “I don’t think about myself; I do for others.  Being a single mother, it’s all on me,” she says. 

Students and faculty of Good Samaritan College of Nursing and Health Science, where Jennifer is taking classes to earn a nursing degree, spent the entire month of October raising awareness for Jennifer’s illness. Every week, they did something different to support her, including selling T-shirts that helped Jennifer pay her medical bills. “I want to give back to them, but I don’t know what I could do,” Jennifer says. Additionally, TriHealth’s Breast Imaging Departments adopted Jennifer’s family for Christmas.

Jen and kids  
Jennifer with her three kids
wearing "Team Jen" shirts.

Jennifer still faces two more surgeries and additional chemotherapy. All of this is worth it for her three children, she says... “I fight for my kids. I have three boys who need me to be here.” 

Jennifer’s best advice:

  • You’re never too young to do self-checks. Where her lump was located could have been missed by an annual exam.
  • Have a great support system. “My job and my school have been like a family to me, I am truly grateful,” she says. 

 

Tags Women's Health

Last Updated: January 14, 2015