Boise mom beats breast cancer
Photo: Video by IdahoOnYourSide.com
After years of treatment, surgeries and medications, Boise native Jennifer Poole is proud to say she is now cancer free. She went with a friend for her first mammogram in 2006 at the age of 35.
“My friend, because she had waited until she was 41, was really nervous that they were going to find something,” Poole said. “I was just going for my baseline, I never had a mammogram yet, but I was the one to get a call back.”
That was a phone call the third generation breast cancer survivor will never forget
“Given my family history, we kind of suspected I'd eventually get cancer but not at 35, and then to be called on the way home from work just kind of nonchalantly, ‘now it's the end of the day I better let you know’; so I was just kind of in shock,” Poole said. “I had to come home and tell my husband and my kids; it was different, it was surreal.”
Jennifer came home to an empty house and sat alone for thirty minutes crying. Her oldest son was the first one to come home. “He saw me crying in the chair and he just looked at me and said, ‘you got your test results didn't you and it's positive,” Poole said.
The motherly instincts kicked in and Jennifer immediately began wondering how it would affect her children.
“It was really difficult to sit there and think about it, having my children grow up and me not be there and to think about somebody else raising them,” Poole said. “When my four-year-old daughter got home I just looked at her and I thought I may not be here to see her start kindergarten, let alone get married, let alone having grandchildren.”
Within a month after her diagnosis, Jennifer got a mastectomy and began chemotherapy treatments. At first, she wanted to give up.
“There were moments after that first chemo treatment, I laid on the bathroom floor in here and just begged my husband to just let me die,” Poole said.
Chemotherapy’s effects on Jennifer’s body made her feel self-conscious. “I felt like 80-year-old man because I was flat-chested, had a big steroid belly, all my joints ached, I had no hair just a little buzz coming in, and no eyebrows and just felt like an old man.”
She even laughs now about telling her husband she wouldn’t be mad if he wanted to go to a strip club to see women’s breasts. He denied.
Her whole family was supportive throughout her recover. Two of her sons shaved their heads to show their support, and the other wanted to grow his long red hair out to make a wig for her.
She also had a supportive group of friends help her handle everyday tasks. "One of them would just be like, ‘you have chemo today let me come get your daughter ill take her overnight,’ and I’m like ‘Oh, she wakes up at night..” and they're like ‘Nope, not taking no for an answer!’” Poole said.
“They’d show up at my door and be like, ‘hand over the laundry, we're taking it to the Laundromat!’ They know I'd tell them no and protest so they would go behind my back through my husband or my mother or just show up at the door!”
After five years of treatment, another mastectomy and reconstructive surgery, Jennifer is grateful to now be cancer free.