Cancer survivor uses experience to reach out to other young survivors

Elisha Morrison
Staff Writer

One Bryant woman has turned her desire for support during her battle with breast cancer into a leadership role helping others like her.
When Jennifer Wiseman, a teacher at the Ouachita River Unit of the Arkansas Department of Correction, was diagnosed with breast cancer in December of 2010, she had support from friends and her family including her young daughters, Hannah and Haley, and her husband, Michael, whom she described as her "rock."
But she wanted support from other young women like her who were going through or had been through the same experience. She wanted someone she could talk to.
She did research but found most of the support was for older patients.
After the end of her treatment, Wiseman found the Young Survival Coalition, a network of young cancer survivors from across the nation who support each other,
"It is a wonderful organization," Wiseman said.
In June of 2013, she became the first statewide leader in Arkansas. She holds fundraisers and works to support others. She connects doctors' offices with information to give to young patients.
One way she raises awareness for the group is by passing out information at events, like the recent Pink & Ink event fundraiser in Little Rock. The fundraiser was held to help pay for survivors who had had reconstruction surgery to get 3-D nipples tattooed.
She attends national conferences in different parts of the country for YSC. She has gone to Atlanta, Houston and Oakland, California.
At her first conference, she met Stori Nagel, who runs the nonprofit organization Haus of Volta in California with her husband. The organization sends gift baskets to women going through treatment.
To raise funds, Haus of Volta puts out a calendar. The "pinups" on the calendars are cancer survivors in various stages of treatment. The front of the calendar is always a survivor of stage 4 metastatic breast cancer.
Wiseman was chosen to appear in the 2018 calendar. She flew out to California over Memorial Day weekend to do the shoot with vintage cars. Her hair and makeup were done.
Wiseman is the March selection. Each month of the calendar will include a photo and a survivor story.
"It was an awesome, awesome experience," Wiseman said.
The calendars are sold at the conference and online.
Haus of Volta is currently seeking the 2019 survivors.
While Wiseman's cancer was stage one, she has a passion for detection and diagnosis of stage four metastatic breast cancer, having lost her aunt to the disease. She said it can be researched but most organizations don't put enough funding toward it.
For her personally, to reduce the risk of cancer returning, she had a double mastectomy a month after receiving her diagnosis. She had to wait a few years to get reconstruction due to an infection.
Since her battle with breast cancer, she has become more empathetic toward others and more passionate about what she believes needs to be heard. She joked that she has less of a filter now.
She said it has taught her to do her own thing no matter what anyone else thinks and not to procrastinate.