by Shandi Pace
Wellness-junkie Jenny Hahne has a remarkable story of resilience. Her mom was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis (MS) when Jenny was a young girl. By the time her mother passed away, she was in an unbearable amount of pain. Jenny was inspired by her mom to enjoy life, travel and live well because you never know what might happen.
Seven months after her mom passed, Jenny’s sister Lisa died of an accidental overdose. Lisa had a hard time coping with her mother’s death and got swept into the wrong crowd. She became addicted to heroin, and as a result, was in and out of rehab. The drug completely took over her life.
Jenny and her father were both devastated. Her father’s health ended up declining as a result of their deaths. While living in Florida with his sister, Jenny’s father was diagnosed with lung cancer that made its way to the brain. He was given three months to live and passed away shortly thereafter.
After experiencing this extraordinary amount of loss, Jenny needed something to be happy about. She had always wanted a child but was unable to get pregnant. Jenny turned to fertility treatments and went as far as to look for a surrogate. None of the treatments were working.
One day, while going through regular screenings, Jenny’s doctors discovered a lump on her breast. She then had to take a biopsy, which diagnosed that she did have cancer. Jenny had to stop all fertility treatments so she could go through cancer treatments.
“Then, to change my thinking into trying to form this family to now. I have to survive and take care of myself and make sure that I live through this cancer diagnosis. That was a really hard shift for me for a lot of reasons. It’s a hard thing to take in and accept,” Jenny said.
Following five months of chemotherapy and eight weeks of radiation, Jenny was cancer-free, but she lost the ability to have a child. None of the multiple surrogates could carry her eggs. At the time, it was a hard thing for her to accept.
Once she became cancer-free, Jenny made it her mission to get healthy and live life as it should be. She took a leave from her job to focus on herself. “There was a lot of stress, and a lot of loss and a lot of grief, which I think really took a toll on my health and my immune system…I really had to heal and get myself back into a healthy place,” Jenny said.
Jenny dove into health and wellness because she wanted to take care of herself in a different way. She immediately saw a swing in the way she was feeling. Jenny then got involved with True North Treks, an organization based in Chicago for young adults who have had cancer. They’re able to take cancer patients and cancer survivors into nature to help heal. Along the trip, there’s yoga and mindfulness led by an instructor. The journey is very healing and therapeutic.
Jenny also became involved with the organization Expanding Lives, which helps young women in West Africa have access to school. Expanding Lives works with families to provide donations, buy school supplies, and administer malaria medicine to their scholars.
After all her cancer treatments were complete, Jenny and her husband began the lengthy process it takes to adopt a child. They did fundraisers to raise the $50,000 needed to complete the adoption. Five years later, they were able to bring home Delphine, A little girl from West Africa. Raising a child during a pandemic can be challenging, but Jenny and her husband are doing everything they can to make Delphine feel safe and work at keeping her connected to her culture.
Jenny is now cancer-free and eventually wants to write a book. “I want to write a book because the healing power of story is the healing power of the writer and then also the receiver of the story…It’s a dream of mine.”
For more information on Jenny Hahne and Expanding Lives, check out their website.
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