Thought Control: Jenny Stark’s Story Continued

This is the third in a series highlighting 42 year-old Jenny Stark’s story during Breast Cancer Awareness month. Jenny is not only a survivor of breast cancer, but one who still has the same class and faith as she did the first day I interviewed her three years ago. If you are not familiar with Jenny’s story, you will want to read This is Just a Season and Paying it Forward, the first and second installments respectively. The first covers the time period when she first learned of her cancer, what she went through, and how she handled it. The second was how she chose to use her disease to help others.

Previous stories about Jenny have been penned by me based on interviews with her.  However, when I called Jenny for an up-date this year, it became evident to me that a sit-down interview with a list of questions was not needed.  I sensed that Jenny could pen her story straight from her heart.

And so, in her own words that follow, Jenny shares her heart.  No doubt, it is the heart of many who have walked this path.

Jenny’s Words

Will there ever be a day that I’m not thinking about my cancer…

Early diagnosis, seems, as if to, occupy your every thought. You’re constantly making conscience decisions to take that next step.

Sometimes that next step may be to get up when what you want to do is lie in bed all day and have a pity party. So, you say out loud,  “Thank you God for my life.  I’m stepping out on faith today and I’m standing on Your word.”  God will meet you where you are, but it requires action on your part.  So put on your best smile, have a good attitude with plenty of gratitude and get going.

Enthusiasm is the result that others will see.  When they see you and know your circumstances, what a privilege to have that kind of mission field, some that others will never experience.  Your journey is a witness to the fact that in spite of what you’re walking through, there is life.

The key to retraining your thoughts is to stay busy (if possible) and continue doing normal activities, such as working, exercising, cooking or driving.  Yes cooking.  For those of you who like to cook, like I do, you know what I’m talking about.  As you go about your business, you overcome a hurdle in your mind, where you realize by the end of the day, that you didn’t think about your condition as much.  Over time, the more distance you put between your life now and your diagnosis, it will erase those fears and concerns that once stole your joy.

Cancer is like an amputation, you learn to live with it, but you’re never the same.  Eventually you will be done with treatment and surgeries and you will be at a point in life that is summed up best as a “slow fade.”  You will not feel 100% all at one time, but every day is a new day with new possibilities and it, too, is a choice.  A choice to choose, that this uphill climb is behind you, and you are well on your way to the new you.

Your life may take you to another level with different goals, with different people, all for the Glory of God.  What may have seemed important 5 yrs ago may not even be a thought today.  Don’t worry about what may change.  Don’t anticipate…Participate!

Mostly, find yourself in a win-win situation, where no matter what happens, you win.  Those thoughts will cast out all fears and you will see clearly.  In fact, your mind will wonder what it was so anxious about in the first place.  That is God’s peace.

As the words of a song point out:  “Let my life be the proof…The proof of Your Love”  So others will see the proof of Christ’s Love [in you].

So, let Jesus run circles in your mind, so that He touches your every thought.

Fighting Like a Girl, Jenny Stark

"You Have Cancer"

  "I can't believe it". "This is not happening to me". These are the words that were swimming through my head several years ago as my doctor delivered that dreaded phrase! I remember asking the doctor to bring my sister, Cissy, in the room and after sitting there for a few minutes we just agreed that we would face this head on. Full of fear and uncertainty, we began to make decisions and change our plans.

I am not very demonstrative with my emotions, therefore, no tears were shed when my doctor told me I had cancer. As I sat back in my seat, it felt like my blood became cold and was slowly and painfully draining from my body.  I was stunned.  And, I was angry.  My mother had just transitioned to heaven a few years earlier,  my family was still working through the devastation of our loss and now this! The prevailing thought racing through my mind, like a freight train that slipped off the tracks, was the notion that I would miss the opportunity to have children. "I am not going to have kids." Isn't this every girls dream? I was not married and would not have the chance to bear children.  I was overwhelmed and disheartened.

As I write this post, I am met with the same emotion I experienced when I first heard the news. I am, however, still alive and while I will never have the opportunity to 'have' children, I 'have' children.  I call them my God-kids.  My life has been enriched by several individuals that think of me as another mother.

Through my experience I have learned a few things:

  1. You only live once. Life is a gift, a free gift that will cost you everything you have. :)  My challenge to you: Live with audacious tenacity.  Enjoy those around you. Live with passion and purpose. Love without reserve. Forgive as you have been forgiven.
  2. We are not alone. We are designed to exist within the realm of relationship with others.  I found that I had (and still have) a number of friends and family members who were willing to stand with me in prayer, cook meals, sit and talk, or remain quiet or drive me to doctor's appointments if i needed or wanted them to.
  3. Life is not easy.  There is no way to know what one will face in life.  This is why I choose to stay connected to a Source that is much bigger that I.  Being a Christian, I trust God will give me grace to endure the challenges and victories that come my way.  I choose to believe He will take care of me through the storm. Even when it doesn't seem like it (there are times).
  4. Whether I live or die, I win.  This was a tough one for me.  I had to personally work through this reality on my own.  You see, I believe that the life I live, right now, is temporary. Death is a transition from this 'life' to eternity. I will see my mother and others who have passed on.  I will live forever.

If you, or a loved, have been diagnosed with cancer or any other disease, my sincere hope is that you have a community of people to surround you with loving care and commitment, as I have.


"This is Just A Season"

My friend Jenny's heart-felt story of dealing with her breast cancer.

You Can Fight!

You have the power to fight against cancer, but how? According to the American Cancer Society by getting sufficient physical activity and eating healthy foods in moderation, an individual’s risk of developing cancer can be greatly reduced.  Although, studies have shown the benefit, 38% of adults do not engage in any physical activity and only 1 in 8 participates in vigorous exercise for the recommended 5 times a week. Why are Americans not exercising even though the benefits are clear in every day news?   I remember my grandmother once asked me, “Why is there so much news about exercise?  We did not have to do this when we were young.”  Even though she did participate in physical exercise with her work and daily tasks, she did not realize the benefits she was receiving. 

In today’s world, we do not have to move if we do not want to. Everything is convenient including the fastest food (although not the most healthy).  We have the luxury of modern technology and the luxury of “jobs” being done with little physical effort; therefore, we have to schedule our time to exercise.

The American Cancer Society states that obesity and physical inactivity may account for 25 to 30% of several major cancers, including colon, post-menopausal breast, endometrial, kidney and cancer of the esophagus. So what are we to do? The following exercise guidelines have become the standard recommendations as reported by the American College of Sports Medicine and American Heart Association.

  • Do moderately intense cardio 30 minutes a day, five days a week                                                   Or Do vigorously intense cardio 20 minutes a day, 3 days a week                                                 and Do eight to 10 strength-training exercises, eight to 12 repetitions of each exercise twice a week.

Moderate-intensity physical activity means working hard enough to raise your heart rate and break a sweat, yet still being able to carry on a conversation. If your goal is currently to lose weight or maintain weight loss, 60 to 90 minutes of physical activity may be necessary.

 Exercise, along with regular exams can help fight cancer early on, but what about cancer survivors? In over nine studies by the British Journal of Sports Medicine, exercise was proven to decrease the risk of death in cancer survivors. I was amazed to learn that in the same studies, 3 hours a week of moderate-intensity exercise was associated with a 50%-53% lower risk of death in breast cancers survivors. Of course living longer can be an incentive to exercise, but we want a higher quality of life as we live.  A national survey of more than 9,000 cancer survivors found that those who met the recommended guidelines for physical activity was associated with a higher healthy related quality of life, including less pain and fewer difficulties with daily task.

As a Wellness Coach, I believe 100% that every woman has the potential to exercise by incorporating a few simple steps in their life to make healthy living a lifestyle and not a crash course that leads to failure. Of course, there are risk factors that we can not control, but regular exercise and eating a balanced diet is something we can control to lower our risk of cancer. It is not just about living, but living the best we can with the body God has given us.

I Corinthians 6:19 says:  “Do you know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you whom you have from God and you are not your own.”

Let us do our part to fight what we know and can control.  You have a Power that no one else has.

To learn more about having a personal fitness plan and be ft for life, call me for a free consultation as your Wellness Coach at 409-550-7606 or email me at