Why I Relay – Jen

Why I Relay

By Jen Adorno

For me, cancer has been something that has been up close and personal my entire life. My maternal grandfather died of lung cancer when I was just a baby and my maternal grandmother died of breast cancer. My uncle also died of lung cancer and my aunt (who is extremely healthy and never smoked a day in her life) had a lung tumor that would’ve became cancerous had she not found it in time.

This is why I Relay.

On my paternal side, both of my father’s sisters had cancer. One had melanoma in her early 20’s and the other had a long, tough road with breast cancer. Thankfully both of them made it through their journey and are still with us today. My grandfather also had breast cancer which is extremely rare. There have also been others with breast as well as ovarian cancer on my dad’s side.

This is why I Relay.

I also have many other friends and loved ones who have had cancer. All of their roads have been different. All courageous and brave. Some ending with the outcome we all hope for and others sadly with the opposite.

This is why I Relay.

When I was in high school cancer decided to invade my home. This was the first time my mother was diagnosed with cancer. She was just 37 years old and was diagnosed with breast cancer. Then, just about 5 short years later at the age of 42, she was diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer. My son was just 3 months old at the time and it felt like every wall had caved in around us. Despite her will to live and all of the love and support she had, sadly this time around cancer took her life just 9 months after she was diagnosed. There is a hole in my heart every single day. It’s a hurt unlike any other and it’s hard to even put it in words. She was just 43 years old. So much life ahead of her that was completely robbed from her. It’s unfair and it doesn’t make sense that this is the reality for so many who receive a cancer diagnosis. We NEED funding. We NEED research. And we NEED to find a cure.

This is why I Relay.

Now, for my own story with cancer. I was diagnosed with cancer when I was 25 years old and 35 weeks pregnant with my youngest daughter. I was diagnosed with melanoma skin cancer on my right arm. I had surgery to remove the cancer and also a biopsy of the closest lymph nodes to check if the cancer had spread and thankfully at that point it hadn’t. However, at some point it did metastasize and in August 2016 I was diagnosed with stage 4 metastatic melanoma. I had 18 tumors in my brain, many in both lungs and a huge one on my left adrenal gland. I feel very fortunate that the doctors acted quickly and I was accepted into a clinical trial at Yale that included immunotherapy. Throughout my journey I have also had gamma knife radiation and also a laser ablation surgery in my brain called NeuroBlate. All of the treatments I have received (besides the gamma knife) are cutting edge. They were not around more than 5/6 years ago. It’s truly incredible and I am grateful every single day for how far we have come in treating cancer. However, I am passionate about seeing it continue until there is a CURE.

This is why I Relay.

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