FIVE MINUTES WITH ... Jennifer Kieta
May 01, 2018 01:21PM ● Published by Ashley Madonna
As she jumped up on the bike and started teaching her first class back at Southlake’s ZYN22, Jennifer slid in saying she stepped away from spin for a minute to “go kick cancer’s ass.” But, the spin instructor is back in action and stronger than ever, and she isn’t letting anyone – or anything – slow her down. The end of last year brought many obstacles to her, her husband and her daughters’ lives, but Jennifer faced cancer head-on with the help of her loving family and community.
I WAS TALKING WITH MY HUSBAND… and I realized I had never had a mammogram. I went to my annual appointment, but I knew that I had to go get one. As I was talking about scheduling one, I felt a lump.
I THOUGHT IT WAS … a fibrotic cyst. But I felt something. I thought it was nothing because why would I have cancer. I set up a diagnostic and two days later visited my doctor. He said he felt something too, but he wasn’t convinced it was a tumor. He told me to watch if it went away, but I still felt it. So, I set up a 3D diagnostic mammogram and sonogram.
I WENT IN… by myself because I thought everything would just be normal and fine. He came in and showed me the lump I felt and then three other small areas that would have gone undetected if I didn’t feel the lump. He looked at me and said, ‘I’m 99 percent sure this is breast cancer.’
WE HAD ALREADY SET UP A MOVING TRUCK… and sold our house. We were moving to California. I went in for my sonogram after Thanksgiving, and we were going to move to California in December.
IT WAS ALMOST COMICAL… The same day we got the news about my health was the day when all those terrible California fires were happening. My husband and I were watching the progression of the fires. We were looking at this map of Ventura, and we saw the street of the house we were supposed to move into. It had a lot of smoke damage. The magnitude of everything that was happening was just shocking.
WE GOT THE CALL… that it was for sure breast cancer, but that they think that they caught it early. But, nonetheless, we had to make a decision. Basically, it was a no brainer decision for me to do a double mastectomy.
IT WAS SO SURREAL… It happened so quickly. I was able to get the reconstruction done the same day as the surgery. But, thankfully, we found out that I didn’t have to do any chemo or radiation. In the surgery, they got all the cancer out and it hadn’t metastasized. I now just take a pill once a day for the next five years, and that’s supposed to prevent any recurrence of cancer coming back.
WE KEPT EVERYTHING… a secret from our daughters until we knew what the plan was. I wanted to know everything and what the next step was. We waited until all that was certain. When we made the surgery date, January 10, we sat them down and said ‘Girls, we have something we need to tell you.’ I was afraid that their immediate thought would be that I was going to die. But I explained that they caught it early, that mommy would have a surgery and I am going to be ok.
I WANTED TO BE HONEST… as I could but also be realistic. I wanted them to be able to trust me. As a mom, you want your children to be a part of everything. But, as a parent, you want to be able to protect your kids. If kids don’t hear the truth from you, they’re going to figure something out and built it up in their heads the wrong way. It really has bonded us deeper.
CANCER DOESN’T…discriminate. It affects everyone. But healing does discriminate. If you aren’t taking care of yourself, it takes a lot longer to get over it.
IT’S CRAZY HOW…fast my healing happened. I was back to teaching six weeks after my mastectomy. And now this is the testimony I use in my classes. You never know what’s going to happen. You never know what your body is going to face. You don’t have to be a super amazing athlete or do anything as intense as we do in ZYN22. It’s just important to take care of your body so that when healing, your body can heal faster.