Jennifer Flowers’ Journey – Cancer Survivor To Empowered Advocate

While most people spend their days making little problems bigger than they are there is a rare breed out there. These are the ones who will use tragedy and pain to triumph. They will not allow life’s challenges and struggles to bring them to victimhood, but instead will take on the battle head on and conquer and rise up. Staring death in the eye will not hold these especially strong and chosen ones to fall. They have been chosen to teach us the art of strength and grace no matter how difficult and painful life’s challenges. They will use the pain of disease and ailment to stand tall and proud as a means to greatness. These are extraordinary people who have a lesson for each and everyone of us. Jennifer Flowers is an exceptional example of an extraordinary and exemplary woman with a profound and powerful meaning. She has an insightful and hopeful lesson for us in the face of illness, adversity and pain. We can all learn from her.When I first met Jennifer and learned her story I knew she was a bright light with a remarkable story to share and could offer inspiration and insights to us all.Jennifer’s story in brief.SD: So tell me how you turned this around in to something really positive. Tell me the new perspective this gave you on life.JF: So after being diagnosed with multiple myeloma in October 2008 having underwent chemotherapy for one year, after that I had an autologous stem cell transplant where I harvested my own stem cells, extended stay in the hospital, I fell critical. After that I had radiation and so in terms of recovering and recuperating it gave me a new outlook and perspective on life. How truly blessed I was to be alive and having faith and perseverance and endurance. It gave me a new lease on life in terms of being happy. Being blessed to have overcome such a serious illness and it gave me a new perspective in that I wanted to be an example for others and to give back to the community to raise awareness about health and how you can overcome a serious illness with supportive family members with prayer with interacting with people who had been diagnosed with life blood cancers, developing new friendships, being surrounded by people who understand the pain that’s endured throughout this process, who cry with you, who talk to you, who openly shared the stories about their journey they went on. It just gave a ray of hope, a ray of sunshine. I could see light at the end of the tunnel. Not knowing whether I was going to live or whether I was going to die. That within itself was a scary reality, but knowing that God is the ultimate supreme being I turned my life over to Him and I knew at that point that I was not in control of anything. And I just had to surrender myself and with that I had to be dependent upon Him and only Him. So I promised Him if he would see me through this piece of the journey that I would surrender myself and give myself to Him wholeheartedly and let Him use me as an example for other people.SD: You’ve not been a victim. What was it? Was it upbringing? What was it inside of you that gave you the strength to use this in a powerful way versus feeling sorry for yourself?JF: Well I knew first of all that I did not want to die so I had made up my mind that I was going to have to fight no matter how difficult times got for me, how bad I felt after receiving Chemo. How I suffered on a daily nightly basis shedding tears, losing my appetite, being dependent upon somebody else. And so each time I would have some of those experiences it just gave me more determination and more will to get back on my feet and become self sufficient because I also had seen how the disease had affected other people. And during that time I was told you only have a five year life expectancy so with that in mind I just kept repeating over and over again I do not want to die, I do not want to die, I want to live.SD: What advice would you have for someone else going through something like this or some sort of challenge in life?JF: I would say trust in God. Have faith. Surround yourself with loving supportive people. Have confidence in your medical staff’s ability to assist you with getting through the process. Ask questions. Be an advocate for yourself in terms of asking questions about your health, asking for guidance. Reading. Researching and preparing yourself in terms of empowering yourself with knowledge so maybe if you experience side effects you won’t be as surprised with what could happened. Being dependent on somebody guiding your life through this process and you not coming equipped in terms of reading up or talking to other people about the illness that would be one way to continue to be strong and steadfast.SD: How has this changed your spirituality or your belief in God? What has it done for that?JF: Well it has elevated my belief in God. I was a believer before I went through this process and I’m a Christian. I attend church on a regular basis, but to actually have experienced a serious illness like this where I had to depend on somebody else and I didn’t know what I would face up the road. I couldn’t see anything. I was not in control so I turned my life wholeheartedly over to God. And He dealt with me. He worked with me. He showed me things. He cleansed me from hurt and pain and so I have a renewed perspective about life, positive energy. I’m at a peaceful place. I’m much healthier mentally and physically.Is that good? You can work with that right?SD:Yes I can work with that._______________________________________________________________________________________________We can all work with that.Jennifer not only is winning her fight with cancer, but she is advocating and raising awareness in the community. She has helped raised thousands of dollars for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society.For more on the Jennifer Flower’s Journey.Jennifer is hosting her 5th annual bowlathon fundraising drive. Look for the story here in the coming weeks.

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Sue Dhillon is an Indian American writer, journalist, and trainer.

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