In November 2014, assistant professor, Jenna Kieckhaefer, was diagnosed with breast cancer. She was only 28 years old at the time.
The concept of having breast cancer first came to Jenna’s attention when she was working on her PhD. She went for an annual visit and was informed she had lumpy breasts. While the doctor said it was probably nothing, she sent Jenna in to get sonograms to confirm. There was something in her right breast, but Jenna was informed it did not look like cancer so they were going to do follow-ups every six months to see if the thing in her chest grew. There were never significant changes and it wasn’t until Jenna moved to Fresno to start her job as an assistant professor and went in for her sonogram check-up that the technicians ordered a biopsy.
You want to fight to stay alive and you need to find the best treatment that there is because it is your life and you want to stay here.
There was a sense of urgency upon receiving her diagnosis and Jenna didn’t want to be sitting around doing nothing. She was able to connect with a doctor at the University of California – San Francisco, who was able to help get her in to see surgeons right away. This immediate action came as a relief to Jenna who needed to make a lot of quick decisions, including undergoing fertility preservation within two days of her diagnosis, and was eager to get started on treatment.
If anybody can learn anything from what I’m going through I want to tell them.
After completing treatments, Jenna’s doctor at UCSF told her about a clinical trial for which she might qualify. Upon hearing this, Jenna decided to sign up for the trial with the mindset that if her participation might help others in the long run she was happy to help.
Currently, there are no signs of cancer and Jenna is working to keep it that way by participating in drug treatments and continuing to participate in a clinical trial.