After reporting a story on the importance of self breast exams and mammograms, then 32-year-old, KETK 56 news co-anchor Jennifer Kielman took the advice home with her and potentially saved her own life.
Kielman found a lump near the surface in her lower left breast. Trying not to panic, she said she waited for two weeks for her yearly doctor's appointment to have the lump examined. After a mammogram, sonogram and biopsy, she said her fears were confirmed when her doctor diagnosed her with breast cancer.
“From that moment on its was a lot of heartache, and it was a lot of tests, and it was an everyday thing for a while,” she said. “It just didn't feel like it was ever going to slow down.”
Kielman shared her personal story of struggle and success in the battle against cancer to a group of approximately 55 women at the second annual Friend to Friend, Staying Healthy Together event held by the Cherokee County AgriLife Extension Agency.
“I saved my own life, and I pat myself on the back everyday,” Kielman said.
Kielman was diagnosed on Oct. 18, 2010 with an early stage but very aggressive form of breast cancer. She had a lumpectomy on Nov. 4 of that year, followed by six months of chemotherapy treatments and a month of daily radiation treatments. She has been cancer-free for over a year and will continue hormone therapy for the next five years to help ensure the disease is gone.
She shared her side effects of treatments, which included severe nausea, bloating, weight gain, hair loss, vision impairment and a potentially permanent loss of fertility.
Through it all, she said, she never called in sick to work once, because she said she would not allow cancer to ruin her life.
"Today Jennifer Kielman opened the eyes and hearts of a room full of people who needed to hear how important breast and cervical cancer screenings are,” said Chris Taylor, executive director of Cherokee County Public Health Department.
“By sharing her own personal battle at a very young age, she put a face to the disease, which is crucial when we are trying so hard to let both men and women know how deadly and devastating it can be to receive such a diagnosis,” he said.
In addition to Kielman's speech, East Texas Medical Center – Jacksonville, Cherokee County Public Health, HOPE, WIC, The American Cancer Society, Love's Nest boutique in Jacksonville, and others, distributed information.
For native Spanish speakers, information was available in Spanish and a translator was available. Certificates for free mammograms were also given away.
“Our goal is for women to get those yearly exams so if there is problem, it can be caught at the earliest stages when most curable,” said County Extension Agent Wendi Green.a
'I saved my own life'
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