Barbara Jett doesn’t see her Stage IV cancer as a burden, but a blessing. Why? Since her diagnosis at age 37, she has been on a healing journey that has encouraged her to be humble and appreciate everything, keep a smile on her face and most importantly, to pay it forward and help others realize they are not alone in their cancer journey.
“Focus on life and enjoy being alive because you never know,” she says with wisdom gained from experience. “Material things come and go, but when it comes to life, love and cherishing one another, those are the best things you can give. You can always get material things.”
Recently Barbara met a young woman (27) through church who was diagnosed with Stage II breast cancer.
“I’ve been talking to her, she goes in on the 17th (for a double mastectomy) and she’s so scared,” explained Barbara. “I tell her she’ll be all right – and she’s so happy and grateful. You can help someone else going through it; I’m not alone and you’re not alone.”
Barbara had similar feelings when she was introduced to New Day, so she knows the importance of that emotional support to someone facing cancer.
“I felt like we’re family because I wasn’t alone,” she said about New Day. “I got an understanding …they’ve felt the feeling I was feeling. Just knowing what I was going through, they had gone through, I felt like I wasn’t alone – it was a beautiful feeling!
Earlier this month, Barbara and her three children, Lateia (12), Joseph (9) and Naomi (8), had their picture taken with Santa at our Hope for the Holidays party. They were joined by their sponsors, the Lutheran High North Varsity Girls Basketball Team and the Petersdorf Crew.
“They were so awesome, my kids enjoyed them and it was so special to us,” she said of the team and the party. “It kept a smile on our face and that’s one thing I loved, because even though we’re going through this, we can still smile. It keeps us going. It’s always good to keep that smile, and last night made it even better. We know that it’s OK.”
Barbara explained tearfully that during the giant group photo with Santa and her children, “I was tearful but trying to hold a smile. MAN, it was heart touching. I kept myself together but I had a tear in my eye. This is the joy of being alive.”
One of the hardest parts of her cancer journey has been forgiving her doctor for not ordering a mammogram initially because she was “too young,” despite obvious breast lesions. She insists on the importance of knowing your own body and taking action, as she did with a second opinion. She has since been back to her doctor and forgiven him, letting go of the anger she felt over her initial misdiagnosis.
“I’m just so grateful to be alive and I’m getting my strength back,” she says of her recovery. “I’ll be going to a personal trainer next year. I’m in remission but I say ‘ongoing healing’ because I don’t want it to come back. I’m looking forward to and praying that I don’t have to go through no more treatment or medicine.” Meanwhile, she is putting her faith in the Lord and enjoying the mutual encouragement and support she has found at the Henry Ford Hospital and New Day Foundation.