North Texas Giving Day is a one-day event to raise donations and awareness
for North Texas non-profits. We are honored to bring you another powerful story of a North Texas woman who’s inspiring us through her breast cancer journey, Jennifer Ackerman.
Update (8/2021): We are heartbroken to share the news of Jennifer’s passing after a recurrence with breast cancer at the age of 37. After her diagnosis, she lived a life full of love for her family and community, a dedication to advocacy, and a heart to achieve big goals and dreams. Her story and legacy continue through her husband, Jon, six-year-old daughter, Harper, and the countless others she has inspired along her journey.
There is a myth among young women that breast cancer only affects women our grandmother’s age; we feel almost invincible to the risk. However, Jennifer was diagnosed at just 24 years old. Suddenly, expectations of having a family or enjoying time with friends were pushed aside as Jennifer educated herself about breast cancer. Our conversation with Jennifer reveals how she triumphed during this stage of her life and can now give back to other women who are diagnosed at a young age.
NBCF: Tell us about your breast cancer experience. Did early detection play a role in detecting your breast cancer?
JA: Yes, early detection definitely did. I was 24 years old when I was diagnosed. I went to my gynecologist for some lumps I had found. They told me it was probably just fibroids, but to go get a mammogram. I went the next day and got a mammogram. Sure enough, I had breast cancer. I was 24 and naïve and not thinking the worst. I feel other women my age are scared to call their doctors. I am so glad I did.
NBCF: What were your first thoughts when you received your diagnosis?
JA: It was just surreal. It was one of those things you think would never happen to you. I had a very positive attitude throughout the whole thing. I never wanted to think that this could kill me. I wanted to keep a great attitude and be strong for my friends and family.
NBCF: What has been your biggest blessing in life, post breast cancer?
JA: Friends and family and now my daughter. I have a six-month old little girl. When I got diagnosed, I wasn’t sure if would be hard or easy to get pregnant. She is such an amazing part of every day.
NBCF: What would you tell a friend or family member about early detection?
JA: Early Detection is key. Once you know yourself, you can be aware of any problems and get to a doctor quickly. The sooner you get the information you need, the sooner you can take action. It just may save your life.
NBCF: If you could share one piece of wisdom with a large group of people, what would it be?
JA: Attitude is everything, both in breast cancer and in life. The biggest message I have vocalized post-treatment was that I wanted to stay positive and get back to a normal life as quickly as possible. I talk to so many people who only told me negative things about breast cancer. I wanted to just focus on the light at the end of the tunnel and be thankful for my health and the care of my doctors.
NBCF: Favorite song to sing in the car?
JA: Journey! “Don’t Stop Believing.”
NBCF: If you could trade lives with anyone for one day, who would it be?
JA: Carrie Underwood! She can sing, and I can’t carry a tune.
NBCF: What activities or groups in North Texas are you involved in and/or passionate about?
JA: I actually speak to and counsel other young breast cancer patients. My doctor contacts me when she feels there is a woman I can help. Just talking to them helps them feel at ease, and I try to share my message of keeping a positive attitude. When I was diagnosed, there was no one my age to talk to, so I want to make their journeys a little easier!
I am also involved in a Real-Estate Networking Group!
NBCF: What is your favorite way to spend the weekend in DFW?
JA: Brunching, especially during fall and spring weather. I also love to watch Texas Tech and Dallas Cowboys Football, and on really nice days, going to the dog park with our dog.
Jennifer inspires us with her unwavering optimism and selfless compassion. We hope you join Jennifer and NBCF in spreading the message of Early Detection by making a donation to NBCF on North Texas Giving Day. Remember, this is a one-day giving event! Any amount you give truly helps.
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