For patients, caregivers and family members of the CTCA Community
 
 
A friend’s example changed Jennifer’s life.

Jennifer Thigpen had been diagnosed with breast cancer, but she was not confident about the initial care she received. Fortunately, she had a close friend who had received the type of cancer care Jennifer was looking for:

JenniferHeadshot.png
JENNIFER THIGPEN
Thank you for
living a thriving,

fulfilling life
after cancer.

— Jennifer Thigpen

I was in complete shock. I was 36, young and healthy. I’d just done my first half-marathon. A cancer diagnosis was the last thing that would have crossed my mind.

When you receive a diagnosis like this, you wonder, “What’s the rest of my life going to look like?” I wanted to be able to continue chasing my 3-year-old and 11-year-old kids.

I didn’t want to let cancer determine the rest of my life.

I’d known Audrey Allen for about 15 years. I knew she treated at Cancer Treatment Centers of America® (CTCA), and I knew that CTCA® treated not just her cancer but her mind and spirit as well. Looking at Audrey, you would never know she had cancer because she’s thriving. I knew I had to be in an environment that could help me do the same.

 

Living consciously

If you know Audrey well, you know she lives a “CTCA lifestyle.” She has adopted the mind-body spirit. She is very conscious about growing spiritually and emotionally—making a conscious effort every day to reflect and meditate. She is always present in the moment.

She’s the perfect example of thriving after cancer. I wanted to have a treatment experience that would allow me to thrive as well.

The integrative approach let me focus on supplements, exercise and being involved in my care decisions—not just going to the doctor to get chemo. I could control the time I dedicated to meditation, the foods I ate, and how I would feel during and after treatment.

Because of Audrey, I’m more conscious of what is in the foods I eat. I want to thank her for being an example of living a thriving, fulfilling life after cancer.

Enjoying the little things

After a cancer diagnosis, I really don’t take the “little things” in life for granted anymore. Being able to return to work is a blessing to me and I’m excited about returning to work at the church nursery. The biggest blessings in my life, though, are my children, and I’m beyond grateful to be part of their lives.

As a parent, I want to take part in my children’s activities as much as possible. I know how important it is to both them and me to have their mom present. My daughter plays violin. Last year, I missed her Christmas concert because of chemo. This year, I was there. And it’s not just formal activities with my children I look forward to, but rather the everyday moments that might seem mundane to someone who hasn’t been faced with cancer.

My 3-year-old son is determined to be a different hero every single day—it’s a battle in the morning which shirt we’re going to wear. Just little things like that—now I understand their importance even more and relish each moment. Even the potty training!

Sharing my story and knowledge

I also make sure to share my story about being diagnosed at a younger age. Last October, for breast cancer awareness month, I stood up in front of my congregation at church and encouraged everyone—women and men—to take a more active role in their health.

I think a lot of times people take for granted that cancer is something that can’t happen until we’re over 40. I hope I can be that inspiration like Audrey was to me.


You can be an inspiring chapter in someone’s story.
Audrey Allen is just a normal person—but she is an inspiration to Jennifer because her experience with CTCA set an example that Jennifer was inspired to follow.
You can make that kind of difference for someone else who has been diagnosed with cancer, just by sharing your experience.
Check out two more inspiring stories below!
Kimalea Conrad had been diagnosed with cancer, and she was confused about her options—until she received a call from some old friends:

It seemed like I was just going around in a maze from one doctor to the next, stumbling around in the dark without any guidance. It did not cross my mind to seek counsel from anybody else. I was just trying to cowgirl up and handle it all myself.

Then Glen and Cathy Gray called. They prayed with me and they just said, “Kimalea, this is where we want you to go for a second opinion.” They began to tell me about their experience at Cancer Treatment Centers of America® (CTCA), and why they had complete confidence that my diagnosis would be accurate and thorough.

Glen told me about his nutritionist, his naturopathic doctor and his mind-body care. I thought, this is what I need.

Enjoying the little things

I needed experts to help me navigate this battle. And I needed a support group, because I was going to be doing it by myself. I was still grieving the loss of my husband and my son was in college. I did not want him leaving school, sitting in a waiting room for me.

Thank you for
loving me enough
to speak the truth.
— Kimalea Conrad

The first thing that grabbed my attention was that all my care would be in one facility—all my testing, all my appointments, everything was there.

When I got to CTCA®, the people there encouraged me, they educated me, they embraced me. They look you in the eyes. The network of hope I found at CTCA with every person I met there moved me from feeling vulnerable to feeling valued and valiant.

They helped me know I could do this—not only survive, but thrive, even during treatment when I didn’t think it was possible.

Sharing the gratitude

To Glen and Cathy, I would say, “Thank you for loving me enough to speak the truth. Thank you for standing in that gap, for supporting me and encouraging me when I was feeling so vulnerable, and for being there for me this whole time.”

I feel compelled to share my gratitude for being helped. I choose joy and love and gratitude for all the help I have received, and for someone being willing to talk to me—and I want to do the same thing.

So I can’t be silent. When I can talk with someone one on one and tell them about the help I had, I can be a help to other people—give comfort and courage, as I was comforted and encouraged.

It’s just the right thing to do.

When Karen Reynolds heard the words, “You have carcinoma,” she felt helpless and confused.

One person helped turn confusion into clarity. That person was Keisha Echols.

 

I owe Rod and Keisha
the biggest heartfelt thank you.
Their sharing of their experience,
I believe, saved my life.”
— Karen Reynolds
Check out two more inspiring stories below!
Kimalea Conrad had been diagnosed with cancer, and she was confused about her options—until she received a call from some old friends:

It seemed like I was just going around in a maze from one doctor to the next, stumbling around in the dark without any guidance. It did not cross my mind to seek counsel from anybody else. I was just trying to cowgirl up and handle it all myself.

Then Glen and Cathy Gray called. They prayed with me and they just said, “Kimalea, this is where we want you to go for a second opinion.” They began to tell me about their experience at Cancer Treatment Centers of America® (CTCA), and why they had complete confidence that my diagnosis would be accurate and thorough.

Glen told me about his nutritionist, his naturopathic doctor and his mind-body care. I thought, this is what I need.

Enjoying the little things

I needed experts to help me navigate this battle. And I needed a support group, because I was going to be doing it by myself. I was still grieving the loss of my husband and my son was in college. I did not want him leaving school, sitting in a waiting room for me.

Thank you for
loving me enough
to speak the truth.
— Kimalea Conrad

The first thing that grabbed my attention was that all my care would be in one facility—all my testing, all my appointments, everything was there.

When I got to CTCA®, the people there encouraged me, they educated me, they embraced me. They look you in the eyes. The network of hope I found at CTCA with every person I met there moved me from feeling vulnerable to feeling valued and valiant.

They helped me know I could do this—not only survive, but thrive, even during treatment when I didn’t think it was possible.

Sharing the gratitude

To Glen and Cathy, I would say, “Thank you for loving me enough to speak the truth. Thank you for standing in that gap, for supporting me and encouraging me when I was feeling so vulnerable, and for being there for me this whole time.”

I feel compelled to share my gratitude for being helped. I choose joy and love and gratitude for all the help I have received, and for someone being willing to talk to me—and I want to do the same thing.

So I can’t be silent. When I can talk with someone one on one and tell them about the help I had, I can be a help to other people—give comfort and courage, as I was comforted and encouraged.

It’s just the right thing to do.

When Karen Reynolds heard the words, “You have carcinoma,” she felt helpless and confused.

One person helped turn confusion into clarity. That person was Keisha Echols.

 

I owe Rod and Keisha
the biggest heartfelt thank you.
Their sharing of their experience,
I believe, saved my life.”
— Karen Reynolds

What if you, too, could turn helplessness into hope for someone?

You can.

And you can, simply by keeping your eyes, ears and heart open and sharing your experience with those who are looking for options and hope. Here are some resources that can help you impact someone’s life today:

Connect with Cancer Fighters on Facebook Connect with Cancer Fighters® members on Facebook. Our Facebook page is an easy, fun way to stay in touch, keep up with activities at your CTCA hospital, or reach out to someone who might need a hopeful word.
Connect with Cancer Fighters on Facebook Create your own story in Story Builder, a unique tool that helps you write your personal journey, step by step. You can customize your story’s design, then download it to share and inspire others.
Connect with Cancer Fighters on Facebook Explore the Cancer Fighters Library. Can an inspirational card lift someone’s spirits? Can a fact-filled brochure make someone’s decisions less confusing? You will find those resources and many more in our online library.