Last week, the rain in the tri-state area stopped long enough for a few rays of sunshine to fall on New Jersey as the Triple Negative Breast Cancer Foundation celebrated its 4th “Peace, Love and a Cure” event. It was a beautiful evening, attended by over 300 supporters, with the highlight being our wonderful honorees: Karen Wittweger of Genentech, Dr. Lisa Carey and Jennifer Griffin. Many of you are undoubtedly familiar with Jennifer through her work as a Mideast correspondent for Fox News. Others may know her through her work as a tireless advocate for triple negative breast cancer, since her diagnosis almost 2 years ago. Jennifer has brought new visibility to the TNBC cause through her many appearances, her blog and her determination to spread awareness. We were honored to honor her with the Champion Award!
It is my pleasure to share Jennifer’s inspirational words:
When I was diagnosed with Stage 3 Triple Negative breast cancer on September 28, 2009, I was still nursing my son, Luke. He was just six months old. Our two daughters were 7 and 9 and I immediately realized that if I was going to beat my diagnosis that I was going to have to use all of the skills that I had developed over the years as a journalist covering other people’s wars. I had covered famine in Somalia, Mandela’s release from prison, nearly a decade of fighting between the Israelis and Palestinians, the Iraq and Afghan wars after 9/11. This, too, was a war. It just happened to be in my breast. Seventeen rounds of chemo, a double mastectomy, 6 and a half weeks of radiation and word from my oncologist on April 20, 2010 – my 41st birthday – that I had had a complete pathologic response to the chemotherapy and that there was no sign of cancer. My surgeons had rebuilt me and I felt like the bionic woman with my new breasts. I never would have gotten through my months of chemo and fear that I wouldn’t see my children grow up without the love and support of my friends and family and my extended family at Fox News. My mom, herself a breast cancer survivor, gave me a pep talk and told me I was going to survive. Greta Van Susteren gave me a video camera so that my girls could document the fight. My girls, Annalise and Amelia, kept me laughing and came with me to shave my head and buy my wigs, which they aptly named “the Miley” or after various American Idol stars. My husband Greg did what he does best – remained positive and diverted me by making me pen certain chapters in our book, “This Burning Land” about our years in the roiling Middle East while the doctors gave me chemo. My friends got together and hired a personal chef to start feeding me ultra healthy food because I soon learned that while Triple Negative patients don’t have a tamoxifen or herceptin, we do have a low saturated fat diet and 45 minutes of exercise a day that can lower our chance of recurrence by nearly two-thirds. My friends didn’t trust me to kick my bagel and cream cheese habit so they began food deliveries and nursed me back to health. I learned that food could be medicine and I took up Pilates, which gave me crazy core strength going into the mastectomy. My doctors at Georgetown University’s Lombardi Cancer Center saved my life. I don’t know how to thank them except to do what you all are doing tonight, raising awareness and funds to help the brilliant researchers out there find a cure for Triple Negative Breast Cancer so that no young mother or any woman for that matter will have to go through what I went through. I am the luckiest girl in the world. And with your help, we will find “Peace, Love and A Cure.”
Visit Jennifer’s blog for more on her life as a news correspondent, and about her TNBC journey.