Jenni Abbott’s Facebook profile says, “Wife, Mom, Christ-Follower. Lover of Books, Music, Food and Fun.” In early February 2021, the Southern Pines resident added “Breast Cancer Warrior” to her list of roles and accomplishments -- and took her friends on family on a virtual breast cancer journey with her. Jenni graciously agreed for FirstHealth of the Carolinas, where she is a patient, to chronicle her journey through a re-creation of her social media posts. She offered raw insights about her experience but always infused optimism and faith. This is the first of eight blogs about Jenni and her breast cancer experience. Read part two here.
As a central Illinois, farm-town girl who sought out sunshine and a faster-paced lifestyle, 18-year-old Jenni headed to the University of South Florida. She earned a degree in early childhood education, married Florida-native Sidney Abbott and taught kindergarten for several years. When children Elly and Mitchell came along, she traded the classroom for hosts’ living rooms as a direct sales consultant for Thirty-One Gifts.
In 2013 the Abbotts moved to Southern Pines with Sidney’s job in the Army. With a personal motto of “go big or go home,” Jenni jumped into life in the Sandhills. She quickly got involved in a church, volunteered at her children’s school and started hosting her first of hundreds of local Thirty-One parties. Jenni defines herself as a “natural connector of people” and thrives on meeting and learning from people each day. If you don’t already know Jenni, there’s a good chance you know someone in Moore County who does.
In December 2020, Jenni went to Pinehurst Radiology for her annual mammogram. No big deal, she thought. However, the mammogram quickly advanced into an ultrasound, which quickly advanced into a discussion with a surgeon about a breast biopsy. Jenni was stunned. “Breast cancer was the farthest thing from my mind,” she said. “I was healthy and active 40-year-old.”
On Jan. 8, 2021, Jenni and Sidney met with her oncologist and learned her diagnosis: stage 2 invasive ductal carcinoma (IDC). The most common type of breast cancer, IDC starts in the milk ducts and invades the surrounding tissue. In some cases, the cancer may spread, or metastasize, to other parts of the body through the lymphatic system and bloodstream. IDC can have four types of treatments – chemotherapy, immunotherapy, radiation and anti-hormone therapy. Jenni’s case called for all four. “I've never done anything small in my life,” Jenni said. “As always, go big or go home.”
Included in the Abbotts’ initial meeting with the surgeon was Lynn Lanier, MSN, R.N., ONN-CG, a FirstHealth breast cancer nurse navigator. Interestingly enough, Lynn hosted a Thirty-One party several years before. (Again, Jenni Abbott seems to know everyone!) Serving as Jenni’s eyes, ears and advocate in this new world of cancer, Lynn translated medical speak into real-world terms, answered the Abbotts’ questions and became an additional source of strength for Jenni and her family. FirstHealth oncology nurse navigators are part of the comprehensive continuum of cancer care offered by FirstHealth Moore Regional Hospital in Pinehurst.
On Feb. 4, 2021, Jenni had a lumpectomy. Her social media posts take over from here.
Feb. 5, 2021
Breast Cancer Warrior. Adding a new title to my list of accomplishments. Yesterday I had a lumpectomy on my left side - removing 1cm of poison & toxin from my body. With the love, support and faith of my amazing family, friends & a community of faithful Believers, I am one step closer to becoming a Survivor. The road will, no doubt, be long, tedious, hard and full of all the emotions...but I’ve got my eyes fixed on Jesus and I know where my help comes from. Thank you for prayers and love. I’m very grateful. ✝️
Doing a lot of nothin’ these days while my body heals & recovers from surgery. Each day, I am gaining more mobility in my left arm & shoulder. As the nerves reattach in my underarm, I am feeling a lot of creepy-crawly, ant bite feelings. Yes, it’s kinda uncomfortable. I’m bruised & swollen.
Books, Bible study, journaling, two volunteer job positions and the occasional Hulu/Netflix binge are filling my days in bed. I’ve had a girlfriend pop over every day to chat and sit with me, bring me a coffee or lunch. My mom, Sid & kids are taking great care of me and ensuring that the house is managed well. PS: My Roomba is a wonderful helper, too! #onedayatatime
FirstHealth Cancer Services is a leading-edge provider of North Carolina cancer care and provides high-quality, compassionate cancer care that’s close to home. Learn more.