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Grateful & Blessed

Today, God has blessed me with reaching a milestone, turning 40 years old, that 4 years ago, I never thought I would live to see. I can remember as clear as day sitting with my kids telling them that my cancer had returned, and hearing my daughter scream and cry with such anger and despair, asking if I was going to die. At that moment, I had no idea how to even respond — only to teach her that our faith was our only hope, and that the man above had the final say. Some very wise words my oncologist, Dr. Vincent Valero told me when I asked him how to overcome the fear and anxiety this beast called cancer gives us. A very dear friend of mine also gave me some wise words of advice on how to spend the next decade of 40 – he said, “Invest in your life, surround yourself with positive people, and do what brings you purpose.” So, here I am today – healthy, happy, blessed, grateful, and alive. I have overcome cancer twice, experienced my own god-daughters battle with cancer, while supporting my best friend along the way, watch my son throw 60MPH fast balls with an amazing, supportive, baseball team that is like family to us, see my daughter attend her first high school dance, traveled to Hawaii with my daughter, sister, and cousins, and built a business that brings me so much purpose, that fuels my passion each day working alongside the most amazing colleagues near and far that have now become dear friends of mine, that I am so grateful and blessed to know. As I move into this next chapter of life, I will continue to embrace every day, creating many more memories, doing what I love – helping other patients and their families, while honoring and remembering the lives of others that were lost way to soon. My only request for anyone reading this is to “pay it forward” to someone today with a small act of kindness. Cheers to many more years to come, and the many blessings that continue to surround me.

Thank you Inspirata!

I am grateful to have the support of one of the many amazing corporate sponsors, Inspirata.

Inspirata specializes in workflow solutions that digitizes and automates the entire pathology case review process with their single sign-on Digital Pathology Cockpit. The work they do empowers physicians, to ensure the patients diagnosis and journey is much faster, transparent and informed.

Inspirata is extremely proud and honored to be sponsoring three-time cancer survivor Kimberly Jewett as she takes on yet another challenge in her life—this time, fortunately, the challenge is one of her choosing and in support of a great cause. Kimberly will be participating the three-day, 200-mile YSC Tour De Pink bike ride in California Oct. 14-16. As with everything she does, Kimberly is facing this contest with complete and total commitment and her usual optimistic spirit. Inspirata is happy to be a part of the support team helping her along the way! Kimberly is quick to confess that the closest she normally gets to riding a bike is exercising on her spinner at home, but that didn’t stop her from signing on for the Tour De Pink is to raise money and bring attention to young women with breast cancer. She has begun a rigorous training routine to get in shape to complete the 200-mile bike ride, which is being held half way across the country from her home in Chicago. Regardless of how fast or how far she goes, Inspirata believes Kimberly is a winner in her advocacy and fundraising on behalf of breast cancer patients everywhere. Her cause is our mission.

Thank you Inspirata, for your support, mission, and passion for patients like me.

You can read more about Inspirata here:

Inspirata Is Proud to be Part of the Team Cycling for Cancer Survivors

Cancer Patients with Strong Religious or Spiritual Beliefs Report Better Health

When Gregg Carr was diagnosed with lung cancer, he turned to his faith to help him find meaning during difficult times. “This cancer has helped me renew my spirituality. I’m convinced God wants me to help more people,” said Carr. After 4 months of aggressive and often painful treatment, Carr says he now feels well enough to return to work. In his small town in Illinois, he often counsels others facing their own cancer diagnosis.

Carr is far from alone in finding comfort and meaning through religion during cancer diagnosis, treatment, and recovery. According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 69% of cancer patients say they pray for their health. A recent study published in Cancer, a peer-reviewed journal of the American Cancer Society, suggests a link between religious or spiritual beliefs and better physical health reported among patients with cancer.

“In our observational study, we found people who found feelings of transcendence or meaningfulness or peace reported feeling the least physical problems,” said lead author Heather Jim, PhD. “A lot of cancer patients have a reaction when diagnosed of ‘Why me?’ or feel like they’re being punished or get angry. This is a normal part of coming to terms with a cancer diagnosis.”

For the report, researchers from Moffitt Cancer Center and colleagues looked at the results of several published studies on the topic, which included more than 32,000 cancer patients combined. They found a link between patients with higher levels of spiritual well-being and reporting better physical health. The researchers did not look at whether spiritual well-being affected patient survival or cancer recurrence.

The authors defined religion as belonging to a religious organization and attending organized services, while spirituality is a connection to a force larger than oneself. For some people, religion is an expression of their spirituality, while others find spirituality outside of organized religion.

The authors say religion and spirituality can help cancer patients find meaning in their illness and provide comfort in the face of fear. These patients might also be more likely to get practical help that aids in their recovery, because they are often connected to a community of people who share their beliefs and can provide meals, help around the house, rides to medical appointments, and other types of hands-on care.

Read more.

Breast Cancer from a best friend’s perspective

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Kimberly Jewett is my best friend; we have been friends since we graduated from high school. Naturally, when she told me she was having pain near her breast, I told her, “It’s nothing” and, “It’s going be fine.” As I watched her cancer diagnosis unfold, I was in shock that this could happen to her at the young age of 31. This was something we thought we might deal with when we got old and gray and our families were grown and we had lived our lives. This time of my life was supposed to be exciting because I was pregnant with my first child after trying to have kids for five years. Everything changed abruptly when her diagnosis came. I tried my hardest to be strong for her and listen to her. She cried a lot while telling me about the statistics she found online and the tests she was having. Listening to her tell me about treatment options using vocabulary words that were foreign to me made me feel hopeless, but I knew I had to continue to stay strong.

The great thing about being a best friend is that you get a pass sometimes—it’s okay to say the wrong thing or to admit that you don’t have all of the answers. Kim had other family members and friends who could take her to appointments, bring her meals and take her kids on playdates. My role was to be her rock, her shoulder to cry on, her safe person. I was the one who helped lift her back up in order to make her feel strong and ready to fight again.

She talks now about me sleeping on her couch after her mastectomy while I was visibly pregnant and my response is, “Where else would I have been?” I always tried to put myself in her shoes. When people feel helpless, they don’t want to be alone and I didn’t want Kim to be. People want someone to help them without feeling burdensome. Kim and I have had some long nights together talking and laying wide awake and sometimes just sitting in silence.

I was with her when she took her first look at her fresh surgery scars. I washed her hair in the sink the morning after surgery and I helped her take her first full post-surgery shower. There are certain things that feel more comfortable to do with a best friend instead of a spouse or a family member. She needed to feel vulnerable, safe and loved. I remember when she asked me how her body looked after the mastectomy; I told her, “It looks like elbow skin, but it looks much better than I was expecting.” We cried together. Neither of us will forget how her cancer strengthened our friendship.

The picture above is from the day my daughter was born. Kim was public speaking for the first time since being cancer free and I expected her to miss the birth. Because she was in the middle of chemotherapy, she was also advised to avoid hospitals and sick people. When Kim arrived in my hospital room, it was like God had slowed down time to make it possible for her to be there with me. When she arrived, it was time to push and she got to witness my daughter’s birth. She always talks about the sacrifices that I make for her, but despite her sickness and treatment, she was with me by my side. I like to think that in the above picture my daughter is smiling because she knows that her godmother, Auntie Kim, will always spoil her and make her feel like a girly little princess, which is something that I do not do.

When Kim beat the disease, we took the time to celebrate. I created a picture timeline for her so that she could remember all of the highs and lows of her brave journey. She was forever changed and came out of her battle with a new appreciation for life—she was eager to spread love to those who had helped her, so she started sharing her story and giving back to others with cancer. She is one of the strongest women I know and I am still so proud of her.

Unfortunately, she was re-diagnosed and then everything felt different again. We had been through this horrendous battle once and we knew what to expect. She didn’t allow herself to dwell on the shock of her situation because she had to recognize that life moves on. Some people have continued to be supportive the second time around, but some people have kept their distance. Possibly because it’s too painful to watch her suffer again.

Kim knew that I would be there for her just as I was before, through the tears, surgeries and chemotherapy. This time she had radiation, too and it was heartbreaking to see the side effects of burning skin over and over again. My experience isn’t one that most people witness—I had a front-row seat to cancer and saw all of its devastating effects on my best friend.

Kim’s desire to give back, share her story and make every day count has only gotten stronger. She continues to amaze me each and every day. I have always known that she’s electric; she can light up a room. I didn’t know that God’s plan for her was to change lives and light up the world. I love you Kimberly Jewett.

Written by Brandy Kneip

Surviving and thriving with passion and purpose!

Today is the start of Breast Cancer Awareness month, and October 13th is Metastatic Breast Cancer Day. While I feel an overwhelming sense of gratitude to have the ability to continue to share my story, to inspire, empower, and educate others, I want to express what October means to me:

Gratitude….I am grateful for every day G-d gives me.
Grateful to be a mom to my children.
Grateful to collaborate with amazing key opinion leaders in the cancer space.
And mostly, grateful to be the voice for the patients that do not have one today.

This month, I encourage you to recognize the strong woman who are fighting, surviving, and thriving every day with this horrific disease. Reach out to them, offer your words of support and prayers, bring them a meal, babysit their kids, or simply let them know you are at their side fighting along with them.

Also, let us honor and remember the courageous women who have lost their battle with the utmost respect for the fight they gave. Reach out to their family and friends and share a memory that will touch their hearts and honor their loved one.

Lastly, let us continue the necessary work to make a difference in the lives of patients and their families.

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Honored and grateful to be featured as a leading patient advocate in pathology

I had the pleasure of meeting Dr. Keith Kaplan, a leading pathologist and expert in the digital pathology community. We connected by the power of social media, and met in person a week later a the CAP conference in Chicago.

His recent blog post today highlights the need for patient advocates like me, and the impact my story had on him with his role as a doctor behind the microscope.

I am absolutely grateful and honored for the opportunity to have met Dr. Kaplan, and I look forward to the continued discussions of our work together, and the impact we will make in the pathology community!

You can read Dr. Keith Kaplan’s blog post here or directly on tissuepathology.com.

 

Lights, Camera, Action!

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I feel extremely blessed and grateful to have been given the opportunity to recently shoot a documentary highlighting my journey with cancer, along with a very special woman, Mary Lou, who is a 72 years old women living in Chicago, and undergoing treatment for Metastatic Breast Cancer.  She has been fighting for the last 5 years, and the current chemotherapy drug she is taking has been working very well for her, praise God!

Mary Lou and I met on Facebook, from a letter she had written to Susan G Komen – Chicago regarding the race she had done with her family earlier this year. A dear friend of mine, Julie, had posted a picture of Mary Lou’s letter (blocking out her info of course) on why she loves her job. Mary Lou had written how grateful she was to Susan G Komen, as well as to the drug company for making this drug that has been doing so well for her. Ironically, I had taken that same chemotherapy drug on my last treatment journey, and I too, feel very grateful for the success I had with it as well. So, I asked Julie to connect me with Mary Lou, in hopes for me to provide her the same hope, the drug had given me. We first spoke by phone, and instantly wanted to meet in person. When we met, both of us truly believed that God had brought us together for a bigger purpose. I certainly felt inspired by her fight, and I am confident Mary Lou felt the same about me. Our faith, our hope, and our gratitude for our lives are the words to best describe our journeys, but more importantly the way in which we choose to look at how we live with this horrific disease. Though, we are in different places in our journey, we certainly are inspired by each other, and are grateful for the greater purpose we believe is in store for us!

Which is why our stories will be shared in a documentary. It will capture our lives, our journey, as well as our outlook on living with cancer and our hope for others battling their journey. As of now, there are many opportunities to use this documentary internally with this pharma company, but an even a greater chance to make it viral. Whatever the outcome is for its use, our sincere hope is that it will touch at least one person, and make a difference in their lives, just as Mary Lou and I have done for each other.

I am grateful to God, to Julie, and Mary Lou, for allowing our story to be heard to inspire, empower, and educate others in their journey.

Healthy Wishes,

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You never know where the road will lead you…

Six years ago, I heard those dreaded words at the young age of 31, you have cancer. I won that battle, and was faced with a recurrence in 2012, and won that battle too. And, I would have never imagined the road would of led me to where I am today. Cancer has certainly taught me many valuable lessons, but the most important one is GRATITUDE. I am grateful to God for always giving me the strength, courage and hope to know I can continue my fight, and to inspire others along the way. I am grateful for my two greatest blessings that give me the honor of being their mom, and I can only pray that God will give me more time to see them grow. Grateful for the family, and dear friends, who have been at my side to give me the courage and hope I needed when I did not think I had any more to give. I would not be on this road with out the love, and support of so many near and far, and I thank you all from the bottom of my heart.

Kimberly Jewett Consulting, Inc. has grown from the journey I have been a part of, and the passion I have in making a difference in the lives of cancer patients and their families. I have truly been blessed with amazing opportunities to share my journey and to inspire, empower, and educate others, and my business will now allow me to take it to a much higher level.

My sincere hope is for God to give me the strength to continue my fight, the courage to believe in myself, and the hope to continue to dream. My dream is now a reality, and I look forward to watching the journey grow!

Thank you for your continued love and support and most of all your prayers.

With Gratitude,

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Stay tuned…

Such an exciting time for me and my family as I work to launch Kimberly Jewett Consulting! Stay tuned to follow me as my journey continues.