BOISE, Idaho — Jenny Giese of Boise was just 37 years old when she discovered a lump in her breast. She had just had her second son and was breastfeeding, so, she was not overly concerned.
"The lump went away. We assumed that it was related to breastfeeding, maybe a clogged milk duct, something like that. But, then it came back." said Jenny Giese. "That's when we discovered that it was in fact breast cancer."
Giese said she could not believe what she was hearing from her doctors. Cancer.
"I'm not going to lie, I just initially said I'm too young, this can't possibly be breast cancer," Giese said. "It was devastating to say the least. We did 20 weeks of chemo; it was difficult but we got through it. After that, I had a bilateral mastectomy, and lymph node removal, and things were feeling optimistic. I was feeling good. But, then I started to experience some really debilitating lower back pain and pain in my right hip at the beginning of June of 2022. We thought it was a side effect of my oral chemo, but then we found out it had metasticized to my bones. It was the most devastating news possible."
Giese was told she had stage four cancer. Jenny and her husband Dustin were stunned to hear that her cancer was incurable. The news was a blow to both of them.
"We are at this point hoping for an advancement in treatment options that will prolong my life for as long as possible," Giese said. "It's just as difficult for Dustin as it is for me."
Dustin wanted to do all he could to help his wife at home with their two sons.
"I stopped working, I took time off and became a full-time dad so she focus all her attention on getting better," said Dustin Giese.
Jenny said she wanted to reach out to other young mothers who were also dealing with a terminal diagnosis. She wanted to find that community and the comfort of knowing she was not alone in this.
"I had a very difficult time connecting with people who had a story like mine, it was hard to find women who were young, who had young children, and who were going through this journey. I started looking for people that I could relate to," said Jenny.
She found that support on social media, and decided to start sharing her own story on Instagram.
"I was really nervous and scared about each step of the process, like shaving my head for the first time. That was such a daunting experience, but after making a video about it, I felt like maybe someone might watch it, and see that was an incredibly traumatic experience for me but now I've moved forward," said Jenny. "Can there be a positive side of this? Not really. So you have to sort of make one. Right now, I'm living in the present and making the most of each day."
On Instagram, Jenny shares the highs and the lows of her cancer, her treatment, and her hospital visits. She wants to share it all, and she does it with so much positivity.
"I think that has been a vital component in helping me through this," said Jenny. "I know it's coming, I know my days are numbered, but I'm not ready to be there yet. I feel good and we feel good. Until the time when we need to think about that, we are not going to think about that. So, we are just living every day to the fullest right now. We should all do that because no one is guaranteed tomorrow. It sounds cliche, but we all should live that way."
Jenny wants other women to be advocates for their health, she says if you notice something abnormal, go see a doctor right away. Do not wait, and do not doubt yourself.
"The second you find something concerning, get an appointment, and if they say they can't see you for a while, push that and be more adamant about getting in sooner," said Jenny.
Right now, this devoted mom of two is determined to make memories for her precious little boys, Henry, 4, and Jack, 2. Memories that will last a lifetime for them.
"I try to document a lot of things for the boys, and this is where I get emotional," Jenny said through tears. "They are so young right now, and we are still trying to develop ways that they can remember their mom and remember our family as it was. For us, we're focusing on a LIVE LIST. Just some things to do to experience together in life before we don't have the time to do so."
Jenny has a special message for people who are reading this story right now. She has learned so much about living and truly appreciating the gift of life.
"I would just say just slow down, and I would just say people should reflect more about how they spend their day. If you are not spending it with the people you love, doing the things you love, then you may want to take a step back and re-evaluate how you are living your life."
Jenny and Dustin are planning to take the family to Disney World in February. That is where they got engaged, and they want to go back with both of their boys. That is just one of the items on their LIVE LIST. If you want to follow Jenny's journey, follow her on Instagram at @jenny_giese.
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