Why She Tries

In 2013, Jennifer was 40-something and thinking about what her next big birthday milestone would bring. Jennifer decided to become more active and live a healthier lifestyle, but didn’t know how to go about it.

That summer Jennifer learned Town & Country was a sponsor of the Maine Cancer Foundation’s Tri for a Cure and several of her coworkers were participating in the all-women triathlon.  Jennifer decided doing a triathlon would be the perfect way to achieve her fitness goals while raising money for a great cause, and vowed to sign up for the Tri the next year.

One thing Jennifer has learned is life can throw a curve ball when you least expect it. In mid-July of 2013, Jennifer got the news no woman ever wants to hear.  She had breast cancer.  Ironically, the news came the same weekend of the Tri for a Cure.

"Before my cancer diagnosis, I wanted to do the Tri for me and had a goal to stay healthy for lie. After my journey with cancer, I wanted to do the Tri to help raise money and find a cure and give back to all the people who supported me during my treatment,"

A single mom of a six year old daughter, Jennifer knew she had to do whatever it would take to beat the disease.  The support Jennifer received from her family was vital in coping with her cancer treatment, but the support she got from the people she worked with and the community overwhelmed and humbled her.

After hearing about Jennifer’s cancer diagnosis, Town & Country’s chief people officer reached out to let her know the credit union would be there to help her with whatever she needed.  And help they did. Jennifer’s co-workers made meals, organized fundraising yard sales, provided rides and even child care for her daughter.

Members and co-workers also raised much needed money to help Jennifer with growing medical expenses through donation jars located in local Town & Country branches.  “People were so generous, it blew me away,” Jennifer said.  “There was one young mother who came to the drive-thru each week and donated $6.34 from her weekly paycheck of $336.34.  She didn’t know I was the person who the fundraising was for. One week she told me it wasn’t much, but she knew how devastating cancer was and she wanted to do what she could to help. It brought tears to my eyes,” Jennifer said.

Throughout her treatment, Jennifer helped inspire and educate many of the young women she worked with about breast cancer. “Since I was open and willing to share about what was going on with me, it made my co-workers feel comfortable to ask questions and talk about cancer,” Jennifer recalls.  It helped put everyone at ease.

By the time the 2014 Tri came around, Jennifer had completed her cancer treatment and felt better. “Before my cancer diagnosis, I wanted to do the Tri for me and had a goal to stay healthy for life. After my journey with cancer, I wanted to do the Tri to help raise money to find a cure and to give back to all the people who had supported me during my treatment,” said Jennifer.

In 2014, Jennifer teamed up with two other co-workers to do the Tri. She signed on to do the 1/3 mile swim. “I am not a swimmer at all and I was nervous. It took me over 20 minutes to swim the course.  Others were in and out of the water in 10, 11, or 12 minutes.  It took me twice as long, but I didn’t care, I did it and that’s what mattered,” said Jennifer.

The next year, Jennifer decided to do the entire Tri for a Cure herself. “As soon as I signed up, I was nervous, but knew I had to do it,” she shared.  Jennifer trained as much as possible throughout the spring and knew there was nothing that was going to stop her from finishing the Tri.  “Since my cancer diagnosis, I attack everything that way now,” she said.

Jennifer is an Assistant Branch Manager at Town & Country Federal Credit Union in South Portland, Maine.

Jennifer does the Tri to thank those who helped her during her cancer journey, but her main drive is for her daughter. She’ll be doing the triathlon on July 17th. “I do the Tri for a Cure to help inspire my daughter.  I make sure she is there the day of the Tri so she can see firsthand how this cause and event impacts her mom.  I want her to experience the energy of the day and bring that with her as she grows up. As a mom, that’s the most important thing I can do,” said Jennifer.

 

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Friday, July 8, 2016