Our limbs are something we often take for granted. We ask others to grab stuff for us when we’re perfectly capable of doing it ourselves, drive places when we could just as easily walk, and neglect exercise in our free time.
Yet, as they say: you don’t know what you’ve got ’til it’s gone. Anyone who has lost a limb could tell you about the difficulties they had to face from there on out.
While we often think of losing limbs as something that can only happen to soldiers or people from third world countries, the truth is it can happen to anybody. Once you lose a limb, you’ll never be the same.
That’s why Jenn Andrews is advocating to get people moving while they still can.
When she went in to get a pedicure, Andrews was informed of a lump on her foot.
In 2014, Andrews of Charlotte, North Carolina went in for pedicure when the technician informed her of a pea-sized lump on her right foot. It appeared to be nothing more than a a ganglion cyst which usually causes no pain or further symptoms, so she ignored it.
She was pregnant, so she had bigger things to worry about. Her family agreed that the lump was a non-issue.
“Obviously when you are pregnant, they won’t do anything for you anyways so I put it off,” Andrews told WBTV. “I also didn’t see a big deal considering several physicians told me it was probably nothing to be concerned about.”
Five months later when she was pregnant with her second child, the bump grew to the size of a golf ball.
“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,” she said. “The needle biopsy showed nothing and surgery was scheduled.”
The doctors removed the mass at the top of her foot and Andrews assumed she was done with it forever. Little did she know just how significant that lump was.
Ten days later, she learned that the lump was a myxoid sarcoma: a rare form of cancer.
“I was blind sided,” she blogged “… 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.”
When she found out she had narrowly avoided cancer, she started getting frequent scans.
Having had such a close run-in with death, Andrews started getting scans every 3 months. Yet, as the cancer continually didn’t show up, these checks became less frequent.
She moved on to once every 6 months and then once per year.
It wasn’t until her 3 year scan in January 2018 that she noticed a major shift.
“They showed a 3 mm layer of change on top of my entire tumor bed,” Andrews wrote.
The tumor was back in full force and the doctors would have to take some drastic measures to get rid of it this time!
“You see – sarcoma in your foot is a lot different than if it was in your arm or your leg,” Andrews wrote. “There isn’t a lot of tissue and muscle on top of your foot.
“…In my first appointment when I was told it was cancer – I asked [my doctor] if I didn’t want to deal with this again – what was my best course of action? His response was one that I never expected to hear. It was to eliminate my foot.”
Andrews was shocked, to say the least.
“My jaw fell – my eyes welled with tears – my stomach dropped and my whole body got hot,” she wrote. “I could see his mouth moving and I couldn’t hear a word after that. I was there in the room but I was numb.”
Yet she also screamed a valiant motto, “THIS WILL NOT BREAK ME.”
Prior to losing her foot, Andrews’ video sparked a nationwide movement called #moveforjenn.
Andrews’s surgery was scheduled for March 12. So, on March 7, she uploaded a video to Facebook telling her friends about her personal motto over the past few years: “Move because you can.”
“… On my 1 year anniversary from when I had my first surgery, I didn’t feel like doing anything but I went out for a run that day,” Andrews said on video. “I remember doing a post about how I was running because I could because, 1 year before, I was sitting on the operating table having surgery and I wasn’t able to.”
She also left them with a heartfelt plea.
“My request to all of my Facebook friends is to get out and move on Monday for me, for all of the people that want to so bad but can’t.”
While this post was originally meant to reach her small audience of Facebook friends, through 166 shares, the story was soon picked up by news sources internationally with the hashtag #moveforjenn trending on social media.
Thanks to the love and support from people all over the country, Andrews was able to go home safely the following Wednesday.
“It honestly gave me the confidence to move forward,” Andrews told WBTV. “What I thought I was going to be feeling: very alone and to myself – that hasn’t been the case at all.”
Andrews hopes to walk unassisted by her birthday on May 12 and complete a 5k run by the end of the year.
“I’m gonna be moving again, I’m gonna be walking again, and I’m gonna be running again,” she said on video.
Keep on chasing that goal, Andrews!