Charlotte mom who lost foot to rare cancer has a message for others

Woman turns cancer into movement
Published: Mar. 12, 2018 at 8:08 PM EDT|Updated: Mar. 14, 2018 at 5:57 PM EDT
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CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - What started as a negative situation for one Charlotte mom has turned into a nation-wide movement that is inspiring people to get out and move, literally.

Jenn Andrews said she was getting a pedicure in Clemmons, North Carolina three years ago when the technician noticed a nodule on her right foot.

The nodule, first thought to be a ganglion cyst, later turned out to be rare cancer that would eventually cause her to lose that foot.

Andrews says she was pregnant with her first child when the nail tech noticed the pea-sized nodule. She thought it was nothing to worry about and says friends and family agreed.

"Obviously when you are pregnant, they won't do anything for you anyways so I put it off," Andrews said. "I also didn't see a big deal considering several physicians told me it was probably nothing to be concerned about."

Andrews said when she was pregnant with her second child, about 5 months later, things started to change. Andrews says the pea-sized "cyst" had become the size of a golf ball. But it didn't hurt.

"Thinking it was hormone related – I had an MRI and was sent to an orthopedic oncologist because the findings were very bizarre after I had my second child. The needle biopsy showed nothing and surgery was scheduled. "

Andrews said they removed the mass on top of her foot and she thought it was a done deal.  "Little did I know that was not the case," Andrews wrote in her blog.

Ten days later Andrews said she went to an appointment and learned the mass that was removed was a low-grade myxoid sarcoma."I was blind sided," she said of the diagnosis.

"I was a new mom of 2. I had a major fear of missing out on my kids and not getting to experience life with them," Andrews wrote.

She started getting scans every three months, then every six months, and eventually every year - all showing nothing. But her year-three scan on Jan. 2 showed a change.

"They showed a 3 mm layer of change on top of my entire tumor bed. The tumor bed at the end before surgery that was the size of golf ball and pretty much covered the entire top of my foot," Andrews wrote.

That's the moment she learned something she didn't expect to hear - she would lose her right foot.

"My jaw fell – my eyes welled with tears – my stomach dropped and my whole body got hot," Andrews wrote. "I could see his mouth moving and I couldn't hear a world after that. I was there in the room but I was numb."

While she's screamed, cried, wondered, "why me?" she says, "This WILL NOT BREAK ME."

Fast forward to today, Wednesday, March 14, 2018: Andrews is heading home from the hospital to her supportive family. She says she lost a foot but she still gets to witness all of life's moments.

Andrews unexpectedly sparked a nationwide movement, #moveforjenn, urging people to "move because you can." She calls the move a positive outcome to a negative situation.

"It honestly gave me the confidence to move forward," Andrews said of the support.

Andrews said her surgery went better than expected - so good, she says, that she'll be doing physical therapy on her own.

"What I thought was going to be feeling very alone and to myself - that hasn't been the case at all," Andrews said.

While Andrews was in surgery, the community was out moving for her.

Andrews says she was told the chance of the rare cancer returning is very slim.

Andrews' short-term goal? To walk unassisted by her birthday, which is May 12. Her next goal? To complete a 5k by this years' end.


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