Anger, support of family and friends helped Jennifer Darveau beat breast cancer
Three years ago in early April 2017, Jennifer Darveau received results back from a biopsy that she’ll never forget.
The phone call from the lab confirmed what her doctors suspected: she had Stage 1 breast cancer.
“We had just adopted my daughter in June of 2016, and later that year I felt a lump,” Darveau said, recounting the months leading up to the diagnosis. “Dr. Ellis was concerned when I first saw him in late 2016, so then I went and saw a specialist in January of 2017. We decided to wait three months and see if it was going to grow.”
Once the lump grew above her left breast, a biopsy was performed, which led to the breast cancer diagnosis.
At first, the call turned her world upside down, but when she thinks back on the days and weeks after the diagnosis, Darveau remembers anger pulsing through her.
“At first, I was ticked off at the world,” Darveau said. “But then that fear sets in, and you start thinking ‘what’s going to happen to my daughter if I don’t make it through this?’ But from the very beginning, I was just angry and wasn’t going to let this break me.”
Just three days after being diagnosed, Darveau found herself inside Shaw Cancer Center in Edwards, where she met with doctors and put together a plan on how to attack the breast cancer.
That plan started with a partial mastectomy in early May 2017, which included the removal of a few lymph nodes to ensure that the cancer hadn’t spread.
“Within three days of surgery, I received a call that said all the blood work and tests showed I was cancer free,” Darveau said.
Despite the tests showing she was cancer free, the hardest part of her fight was to come.
Due to the possibility of some microscopic cells still in place carrying the cancer, Darveau immediately started chemotherapy and radiation at Shaw Cancer Center in hopes of completely ridding her body of the cancer.
“I had to do eight cycles every two weeks,” Darveau said. “It was really scary, because there’s so much risk involved with chemotherapy. But I didn’t really have a choice.”
Following her final chemotherapy cycle on August 29, 2017, Darveau then had to begin radiation treatment, which was five days a week for six weeks.
With the amount of time she’d be spending in Edwards, the Darveau family rented a house in the area so that Jennifer could stay there five days a week and return home to Craig on weekends, allowing her to complete her treatment each day and rest comfortably.
While renting a home in the Vail area, Darveau said that her parents and her husband’s parents were key to the entire situation as the two couples would rotate spending a week with Darveau in Vail, helping her watch her young daughter while her husband continued to work in Craig.
“The radiation treatments were really only 10 minutes, but they just took so much out of me,” Darveau said. “Having my parents and my husband’s parents there to help out was huge.”
Along with the help of her parents and in-laws, Darveau had a ton of support from her community as well, in the form of gift baskets, gift cards, t-shirt sales and more.
Seeing that type of support from her community was overwhelming – in a good way – for the Craig resident.
“You know, people always say Craig is this great community and they come together to help people out…that really did happen with me,” Darveau said. “People that I didn’t even know were buying t-shirts to help my fight. Every time I’d go to chemo, there would be another gift basket waiting for me. I think that really helped, knowing that I had lots and lots of people cheering me on, pushing for a good outcome.”
Following chemotherapy and radiation, Darveau looks back on the experience in a proud way, knowing that she persevered and beat breast cancer, thanks to help from her family, friends, community and inner anger.
“I learned that I’m much stronger than I ever realized,” Darveau said. “I remember thinking early on that this was what was going to be the end of me, but I never let it define me or break me.”
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