Jennifer Hennick was 28, a mother of two, and in college when she was diagnosed with breast cancer.
That was 13 years ago, but today she’s still fighting cancer as she helps others with their battle.
“I was terrified because I don’t care what kind of cancer you may have and how curable it may be, when somebody tells you that you have cancer the first thing you’re thinking of is, I’m going to die,” said Jennifer Hennick.
Hennick remembers well the day she was diagnosed with breast cancer.
“At 28 years old to just be sucker punched with your mortality was just terrifying,” Hennick said.
A single mother of two and about to graduate from the Nursing program at CSU Bakersfield, she fell on her faith and fought.
“I wasn’t going to act like cancer won right then and there. I was going to continue to go through my life and I wasn’t going to put any plans on hold. It was just whatever happened, happened and thankfully i’m still here,” Hennick said.
13 years later and cancer free, Hennick is a Nurse Practitioner in the Breast Center at the Adventist Health AIS Cancer Center, where in a way she’s still fighting cancer.
“Do your own self breast exams. If you find something that’s abnormal, go to your doctor and say this is different,” Hennick said.
Hennick helped launch the Young Survivors Coalition in Bakersfield.
The coalition focuses on helping young breast cancer fighters and survivors in our community.
“I always want to tell them that they need to be their own self advocate,” Hennick said.
Although breast cancer in young women is rare, “breast cancer in young women is often diagnosed in later stages because we don’t have any screening tools to check us and then when it is diagnosed it’s usually more aggressive,” Hennick said.
Young women diagnosed with breast cancer have a higher mortality rate and a higher risk of metastatic recurrence.
“We’re young and we have dense breast so that’s why there aren’t really any screening mechanisms out there for us. A mammogram doesn’t work well looking through dense breasts, but there are other test out there that can detect cancer so this is where girls have to be their own self advocate,” Hennick said.
It’s a career and fight she never expected, but she wouldn’t have it any other way.
“I think that is what was meant to be and I always tell people that I don’t think I would have ever chosen oncology if cancer wouldn’t have chosen me,” Hennick said.
Any young woman in our community, fighter or survivor, is encouraged to reach out to the Young Survivors Coalition.
It can be a hard and lonely battle and people like Hennick understand that fight and are here to support you.
You can find the organization or Jenniffer Hennick on Facebook.
It is recommended women under the age of 40 get breast exams every 1-3 years.
Women 40 and older should get checked every year.
The AIS Cancer Center will hold free clinical breast exams Wednesday, October 24 from 4:00-6:00 p.m.
You can RSVP at 637-8321.