A breast cancer diagnosis inspired a group of friends to recently host a neighborhood party for Jodi Jenkins.
They hoped it would send her into treatment with a positive attitude knowing she had the support of family and friends.
Jenkins had always dreamed of moving to Payson when she retired. After 39 years working for Best Western corporate headquarters in Phoenix, that dream came true in January.
Then came the diagnosis.
“When I first received my diagnosis in early May, I asked my household not to tell anybody,” Jenkins said. “I needed to process and come to grips with it myself before sharing it with others.”
When she was ready to go public, her sister-in-law Valerie Gorodensky-Blackshire told their neighbors. Kathy McVaugh said, “We have to throw her a party!”
The group named their party “LOL Cover Up.”
Everyone wore hats, gifted Jenkins with head scarves and brought comedy videos to watch. Gorodensky-Blackshire bought mustaches at a local store for a photo.
The goal was to be as funny and silly as possible and conclude with a makeover and scarf tying.
“It was lovely,” said Jenkins. “What do you do when you find out you have cancer? Throw a party! I think this was an excellent idea to put a positive spin on something that’s not very positive. A spirit lifter.”
Gorodensky-Blackshire hopes sharing their story will help others.
“Being new to the community,” she said, “we hope that sharing this experience may encourage others to take on cancer with a daring fight attitude rather than with defeat and fear.”
Jenkins said she appreciates the head coverings she received at the party.
“Cancer doesn’t normally run in our family,” said Jenkins, “but it is something I have and I’m pretty good about dealing with things, I’m realistic. I have a good prognosis. I just have to get through it. There are good days and bad, it’s mostly managing fatigue and nausea.”
Jenkins receives chemotherapy every three weeks. After five months of treatment, she will have surgery. She said she feels worst the four days after chemo. She has medication to manage the nausea and paces herself to navigate the fatigue. Another side effect of the medication is intolerance of certain smells including coffee which is disappointing for Jenkins, a coffee lover.
“You don’t feel anything when you’re receiving chemotherapy,” said Jenkins. “It takes about two and a half hours per dose via IV drip. It’s not as scary as I thought it would be, it’s nothing like you see on TV.”
She is receiving treatment from an oncologist in the Valley. The nurses at the hospital said the party idea was brilliant.
“People need to know it’s OK to face it head on,” said Jenkins. “It’s there, it’s a fact. Try to put as positive a spin on it as possible instead of being negative or worse, not mentioning it at all. It’s OK to ask someone ‘How are you feeling today, do you need anything?’ instead of being afraid to say anything.”
Jenkins said there’s no better place for her than Payson.
“Getting to retire here has been one of the great joys of my life,” she said.
The group is already planning her recovery party.