Janelle has always dreamed of being a mother and growing a family. She found passion in using her camera to freeze time and hold onto memories. She grew up in a traditional home in a small town in Michigan.
Now, Janelle has seen her dreams and passion come to fruition as she is the mother of two amazing boys, a caring wife, and a successful photographer. From the outside, it may appear she has the ‘American dream’; however, behind the scenes, Janelle has triumphed over incredible hardships.
Shortly before the birth of her first son, her mother was diagnosed with Stage 3 Ovarian Cancer. While they celebrated the newest addition to their family, the battle was just getting started. Janelle’s mother had a mutated BRCA1 gene. The BRCA1 gene is something everyone carries, it blocks the formation of tumors; however, for Janelle's mother, this gene doesn’t work.
After Janelle’s mother was diagnosed, Janelle found out she also has a mutated BRCA1 gene. The doctor’s suggestion? Have a double mastectomy and remove her ovaries right away. This left Jannelle with a decision between continuing to grow her family, or have surgery to protect herself from the possibility of cancer.
In the spring of 2015, before her son’s first birthday, Janelle’s mother passed away from her fight with cancer. Janelle reflects on how she wishes she would have spent more time with her, and been more intentional with their relationship. Janelle also feels as though she needs to take action to protect herself from the disease.
Feeling like their family was not yet complete, Janelle and her husband decided to have one more child before the surgery. It was really important to Janelle to breastfeed her second child for one year before having her breasts removed. When she found out she was pregnant with their second child, she remembers “That was a really good day”.
After having her second son, Janelle had a double mastectomy with reconstruction. “I have a sense of relief knowing that I beat breast cancer before it could ever beat me,” Janelle remarks. Taking preventive measures to have a mastectomy before an official diagnosis makes Janelle a previvor. Janelle felt that it was irresponsible to not take measures to protect herself against cancer.
After the mastectomy, Janelle had implants and fat grafting done to reconstruct her breasts. She was sent home with a surgical recovery bra but warned not to wear the bra long term. Janelle struggled to find a bra that fully supported her and her sensitive tissue and allowed her to get back to a healthy lifestyle.
After a follow-up appointment, her doctor introduced her to the SHEFIT collection. Starting in a ‘Lounge bra’ (now referred to as the Real Support Seamless) Janelle left the office feeling supported and comfortable for the first time since her mastectomy. Janelle soon fell in love with the Ultimate Sports Bra The support allowed her to get back the active lifestyle that she had always known. “To be able to put it on, adjust the bra and have it support and not hurt, it was everything. I get emotional about it because it was a really big deal. I really don’t think I could run without it”.
Janelle is a proud previvor. This is her Sisterhood Story