Cancer sucks. We all know this. Because October is breast cancer awareness month, I wanted to share the story of a bad a$$ mama I know.
Jennie Small is a kind, brave, funny, and all-around-fabulous lady. She is a mom to three beautiful girls (hooray to “the mamas with three beautiful girls” club). Jennie is also a breast cancer survivor. I can honestly say I personally have never heard of such a bad a$$, “kick cancer to the curb” story.
Most people find out they have breast cancer through their annual mammogram. Jennie found out during a prenatal exam at 15 weeks pregnant with her third child. I can’t even begin to imagine what that felt like. Jennie handled it with such bravery and positivity; I know I wouldn’t have been able to.
See, I went to school with Jennie. She graduated a year behind me. Years later, we caught up. I was living across state when she saw I was starting a photography business; her wedding was my first job. Jennie had more confidence in my skills than I did. To be able to capture the love between Charlie and Jennie, along with their two girls, was just the best experience. They are all such happy, loving people.
Fast forward to less than a year later–and I receive this horrible news. After a few tests, she was diagnosed with stage three cancer. STAGE THREE CANCER! No, not just stage three cancer; stage three cancer WHILE PREGNANT.
I get chills just thinking of that. She had a mastectomy a week later.
Most women say their second trimester is better than their first. Morning sickness is usually gone. Their energy levels return. During Jennie’s second trimester, she was underwent aggressive chemotherapy. Jennie was (and still is) a rock star. She did her best to keep things normal for her two girls.
Baby Bella was born five weeks early because the next round of chemotherapy would have been too harmful for her.
Bella was born perfectly healthy. She joined her big sisters Kyra and Madison, and one of the most supportive families I know.
I have been so lucky to take pictures for this bad a$$ mama and her family on many occasions. Jennie has always been a very bubbly person, but you can see that she has an extra bounce in her step now. She smiles extra-wide smile and her laugh is more infectious because she knows how lucky she is to wake up every morning. I am proud to call this mama a good friend of mine!