Cancer. The word stops you dead in your tracks. For Jenn Andrews, the word ignited a flame to create a foundation to ensure that fellow sarcoma patients would not find themselves isolated and alone. The Move For Jenn Foundation helps this rare subgroup of cancer patients get access to necessary medical equipment to ensure that they keep moving forward.
Jenn Andrews, mother of two, and her husband Miles found out about her diagnosis for cancer in 2013. At the time, Jenn was pregnant with her first child when, at a pedicure, they discovered a small lump on her right foot. The lump was only visible when pressure was applied. She had it evaluated by a doctor who determined it to be a ganglion cyst. In 2014, while removing the cyst, they found sarcoma cells along the bottom of the mass that attached to her foot. After a three year remission and a series of scans to monitor growth, there was a recurrence. A 3-millimeter thick area was discovered all over the skin of her right foot. A punch biopsy determined the tissue to be a sarcoma.
At this point, Jenn’s choices were grim. She could opt for limb salvage surgery, which would result in a series of painful surgeries and skin grafts, or amputate the foot. The doctor’s informed her that if she did not amputate her foot, cancer could spread to her lungs, resulting in death.
On the morning of the surgery to amputate her foot, Jenn posted a Facebook Live video asking friends and family to move, in any way they could, because she would not be able to for a while. As a health and wellness coach, moving was the essence of Jenn’s life. When she was barely awake from surgery, her husband Miles brought her her cell phone so that she could see the surprising news. Her video had gone viral with the hashtag #moveforjenn. There were tons of heartfelt messages from around the globe of people who decided to get back to being active as a tribute to Jenn.
As Jenn healed and began her journey as an amputee, she found that there were more troubles ahead. She was eager to get back to being active, but activewear prosthetics are not covered by insurance. Insurance companies would cover a walking prosthetic, but those used for running or swimming were not covered and were incredibly expensive.
Jenn felt that the cost of these activewear prosthetics was prohibiting other amputees from getting out and moving again. For Jenn, moving was medicine. While she did take medication for her situational depression and anxiety, focusing on getting moving also helped counteract those feelings that she felt after her surgery. Jenn didn’t want anyone else to suffer due to being unable to afford activewear prosthetics. She formed the Move For Jenn Foundation to “bridge the gap between what medical insurance and the medical system provides and what an active amputee needs”.
Jenn was determined to get moving as soon as possible after her surgery. She was able to walk unassisted eight weeks post-surgery in May and ran her first 5k for the Isabella Santos Foundation for Pediatric Cancer that September.
The Move For Jenn Foundation has raised funds for 7 people to become more active with the appropriate prosthetics. “Every time a grant is given, another person is healed from what cancer has stolen from them,” Jenn remarked. Two women, in particular, held special meaning for Jenn. These survivors had mentored Jenn before her surgery and had been a trusted shoulder to lean on with her fears and expectations. Jenn was able to present both of them with grants, which she saw as bringing the relationship full circle. She was able to help one woman get a trail running blade for running and the other woman was gifted a specialized wheelchair for racing. Most importantly she was able to touch their lives as richly as they had touched hers.
The Move For Jenn Foundation has brought Jenn in contact with a very specialized group of survivors. Sarcomas are a very rare form of cancer that develops in the bones and connective tissue such as muscles and fat. Sarcomas account for only 1% of all cancer diagnoses and of that there are 160 subtypes of this cancer itself. When Jenn was diagnosed with her sarcoma, she was one of only 44 reported cases.
Jenn has faced many difficult and heartbreaking decisions on her journey. She stresses the importance of community and strength in the fight against cancer. The Move For Jenn Foundation is active in our community and is looking for local businesses who would like to join the fight against cancer by hosting or being part of upcoming events.
For more information on the Move For Jenn Foundation and to become a part of the movement, please contact them via the web at moveforjenn.org, on Facebook at Move For Jenn Foundation, and Instagram @moveforjenn.