Metastatic Cancer: "I'm in Stage Thrive!"

Jen S. is battling metastatic breast cancer. But you'd never guess it from meeting this bright-eyed, can-do, single mom. Here's how she keeps her strength and spirit alive.

Maria Lissandrello
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Put a time limit on sadness. Whether it's the loss of a friend—"It's hard when you watch someone die because of the same disease you have"—or a bad scan, Jennifer gives herself permission to grieve: "I can be mad, I can cry. But I put a time limit on it—one night. In the morning, I say, 'Okay, what are the next steps, and what do I need to do?' I have a finite amount of energy, so I don't want to spend it on a bad scan."

Believe. "When I was diagnosed with Stage IV, Corbin was not even 2," recalls Jen, who goes on to say that she set two goals: 1) to take Corbin to Disney World and 2) to see him go to kindergarten.

It was on that Disney trip that Jen spotted a magnet reading: "Miracles happen if you just believe." "The word believe rang true with me," she says, and she linked it to goal number two. Earlier this summer, to acknowledge reaching that amazing milestone, Jen had it tattooed on her wrist in a one-of-a-kind "font"—Corbin's handwriting.

On Aug. 24, when Corbin let go of her hand, the hand he reaches for every morning at the breakfast table, to run excitedly toward his new classmates, Jen felt a little bit wistful and a whole lot wonderful. In her case, after all, believing is seeing.

Jen S. has since passed away on Saturday, September 28, 2013.

August 2012