It has been exactly 85 months since we launched our wellness program. For 85 months our steadfast goal is to make a positive impact in the health of our team, because – to put it quite simply – our health is everything. I am thankful to Jan for sharing her story. She told me that she had feelings of guilt becoming the Relay for Life Survivor Honoree. Guilty because there are people who have had it worse. Guilty because she is healed. Guilty because she survived. I reminded her, your duty as a survivor is to pay it forward. To encourage others to get a live-saving wellness exam. And to live a changed life, because cancer is the ultimate wake up call. Cancer is cancer and after 33 radiation treatments and a surgery, she has earned the title of survivor.
Below is Jan’s story from the Dyersburg State Gazette. It all started with her routine wellness exam. A wellness exam encouraged by the very wellness program she helped to create. I hope you will join me in honoring Jan and her story by going to get your wellness exam this year.
– Larry S. White, W&A CEO & Cancer Survivor
This Year’s Relay Honorary Survivor Honoree is Jan Jernigan. Jernigan was diagnosed with Ductal Carcinoma In Situ (DCIS) in January of 2016. The second part of her treatment plan ended on April 13th of 2021. Jernigan is celebrating the one-year mark after the disease. Members of the community are encouraged to join Jernigan at the 2022 Relay for Life event and show their support in the ongoing fight against cancer.
Jernigan’s employer, White & Associates Insurance, put a very strong Wellness Plan in place in April of 2015, which emphasized the importance of annual wellness exams.
“I was always pretty faithful about going for my annual exams, but because of our Wellness Plan, I made sure to get them done,” stated Jernigan. “My annual mammogram was scheduled in December of that year at the hospital in Dyersburg. My journey started on December 30, 2015, with my second exam and a biopsy. From that point everything moved so fast, and life was somewhat a blur. My journey continued over the next 3 weeks with a diagnosis of DCIS (Ductal Carcinoma In Situ), a visit to West Clinic in Germantown, a pre-op visit to St. Francis Hospital in Memphis and a lumpectomy on January 19th. On February 22, 2016, I started my treatment plan, which included 33 radiation treatments. It was a lot to process. I am very thankful for the relationships with different medical staff that I already had prior to my diagnosis. There were many professionals who helped get my journey underway quickly and get me on the road to recovery. The staff at the Cancer Care Center in Dyersburg was amazing. Kurt and Randi truly are angels. The second part of my treatment plan was medication for 5 years, which ended when I took my last pill on April 13th of 2021.”
“Along the way, there have been so many people who supported me and kept me positive,” added Jernigan. “A great friend, Stella, sent pink roses to me in early March 0f 2016, one rose for each treatment I had left. By April 7th, the last treatment day, they looked pretty ragged, but I kept them and each time I completed a treatment, I took one out of the vase. A great friend, Lynda, mailed a card each week to me to lift me up. I usually got the card on Thursday and really looked forward to that day each week. My mom Virginia, my two sisters Barbie and Joy, and my cousin Deb planned a trip to see other family in Arkansas. We left town on April 8th, the first day of no treatment in six weeks. My work family, White & Associates Insurance employees, wore pink, and my co-worker Cate decorated my door on my last treatment day. They all were truly my daily support system. My church family at Church Grove Baptist Church was the best during my journey. They cheered me on, prayed for me, listened when I wanted to talk and gave the best hugs when that is all I really needed.”
Jernigan had some words of encouragement for those that have been on the same journey to find the cure. She urges women to continue their annual exams, self-advocacy, and reach out for support.
“I tried to surround myself with positive people that would let me talk about my journey only if I wanted to talk about it. I was truly blessed it was caught early,” continued Jernigan. “I really try not to play the ‘what if game,’ but in this case, I have asked myself ‘what if’ I had not gone for my annual exam that year. I am so glad I did. There is one thing I would like you to take from my journey. Please get your annual exams. If you are nervous or scared to go for your exam, call me! I will go with you!”