A Discussion With Jennifer Delgado on Life After Cancer and Weathering the Storm – Thrive Global

By daniellenierenberg

JenniferDelgado grew up in St. Louis, Missouri. She attended Webster University, whereshe received her Bachelor of Arts in Media Communications. She then went to MississippiState University, where she received a Bachelor of Science in Geosciences witha concentration in Broadcast Meteorology.

In 2006,Jennifer Delgado worked as a morning and noon meteorologist for WTVR-TV inRichmond, Virginia. Then in 2008, she began working at CNN International inAtlanta, Georgia, as their primary meteorologist, as well as a fill-inmeteorologist on all CNN networks. In 2010, she won a Peabody Award for CNNscoverage on the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

In 2013,Delgado was hired as a co-host of AMHQ (Americas Morning Headquarters) at TheWeather Channel. She anchored continuous coverage of breaking news and weatherevents, including live interviews with state and local officials, experts andresidents. She was also their fill-in co-host of Wake-Up with Al.

JenniferDelgado began freelancing as a meteorologist/anchor for WXIA-TV in 2017. Shepresented weathercasts every six minutes during a two-hour morning newscast andproduced weathercasts for radio, web, and the 24-hour weather channel.

Two yearsago, Jennifer Delgado was diagnosed with blood cancer. She underwent treatmentand received a bone marrow/stem cell transplant. Since the transplant, she hasbeen receiving treatment at the Emory Winship Cancer Institute and advocatingfor cancer awareness and more bone marrow donors.

No one is ever prepared tohear the words, you have cancer. It literally blew up my world. I had to stopworking because beating cancer became my full-time job. I knew something waswrong for months based on my symptoms. I was tiredall the time, my bones were aching, had migraines, vertigo andconfusion. Dealing with any illness is stressful, especially if you arent ableto work. Some people say cancer changed their life for the better; however, Idont want to credit cancer for anything positive. It was a wake-up call. Lifeis short, and you have to enjoy every moment.

I immediately went into adeep depression. I hid and only shared the news with my close friends andfamily. I was trying to hide the awful chemo port in my chest and made excuses for my appearanceand fatigue. It was very stressful. I think anyone dealing with a seriousmedical condition should reach out to people going through the same battle. I got some amazing tips from fellow blood cancersurvivors on Instagram and Facebook support groups. I have formed many closebonds and when I am feeling down they completely understand. Cancer patients caneasily go through their savings in a short amount of time. I was lucky to haveamazing health insurance but not everyone is that fortunate. There is a lot of grant money out there forpeople struggling financially. The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society is anamazing organization and helps patients with everything from financial help,information on clinical trials etc.

If you are strong enough, Isay its important to be your own health advocate. You know your body best. Ialso suggest if you have one, reaching out to a friend or family member whoworks in medicine (nurse, PA, doctor) to be your medical advocate. The advocatecan come to your appointments or even join a conference call during yourappointments when you need help understanding your treatment options. I waslucky to have both my mom and one of my best friends to help me interpreteverything. Never be afraid to ask your doctor questions, and dont forgetabout the physicians assistant, who often has more availability.

I was going back and forthto the doctor for nearly a year, and they keep dismissing my symptoms. At onepoint, one doctor told me to take probiotics. I finally decided it was time toget a second opinion when I was having trouble walking. Luckily, I found Dr.Drew Freilich, whom I credit with saving my life. He recognized that mysymptoms were severe and insisted that I needed an MRI. Thats how theydiscovered I had a blood cancer that was attacking my bones. I could havebecome disabled if I had waited longer to get help. If you know something iswrong, you have to be persistent about getting answers.

I know it sounds clich, butmy friends, family, and neighbors. They all took excellent care of me. Theydrove me to the hospital for chemotherapy or bone marrow biopsies. My friends were great and woulddrop by to bring me food or help clean up myhouse.

I know it may sound sillybut my dogs really helped keep my spirits up. Quite often, it was just me and the dogs and duringisolation. I truly believe that pets are healing, and studies show that havingone improves your mental health. There were several weeks when I had to be awayfrom my dogs because my immune system was too weak. I was lucky enough to havegreat friends watch my fur babies. I even tried to convince my friends to driveby Emory Hospital so that I could see them.

I would say you have to bepositive. It seems like its a long way away, and you wonder at times whetheror not everything you did is going to pay off when you finally get toremission. So, I think you have to be positive because you get very paranoid. Ibelieve positive thinking can be healing and improve your health. Keeping inmind that everyones journey is different, I think its also important to see apsychologist or therapist. Sometimes its easier to share your real concernswith a stranger. We always try and put on a brave face for family and friends.

Aftereverything, I felt like I had to give back to the cancer community and EmoryWinship Cancer Center. I got my dogs certified to be Happy Tails therapydogs, and now we visit patients battling cancer while they are getting chemo.Its amazing and emotional all at the same time. Many times, patients will say,your puppy made my day.

Iam also trying to raise awareness for the need of more bone marrow donors.Right now, the majority of donors come from Europe. It would be awesome if morepeople would register to be a bone marrow donor. Its a simple swab test. Ithink its a small price to pay, considering more than 170,000 people arediagnosed with blood cancer every year. Check out Be The Match or The Leukemia& Lymphoma Society.

I am not going to sugarcoatit, staying motivated is extremely challenging and a daily battle. I thinkevery cancer survivor questions, why did this happen to me? Is it gone? How longwill I stay in remission? It can be quite depressing, but you have to live forthe day and stick to a routine. I try to remind myself that there is a reasonwhy I am still alive, and I want to give back to others who are struggling.

Everything. I had months ofchemo to get my cancer level down enough to collect my stem cells for thetransplant. I wondered constantly, will I be in remission? And then once Iwas in remission, how long will I stay in remission before I relapse? Whenyoure dealing with blood cancers, most have no cure. So, theres always thatchance of relapse, and youre always worrying about it.

I did six rounds of chemobefore I was even ready to get a transplant. The stem cell transplant wassomething I was dreading because of the high dose of chemotherapy and losing myhair. That can be a very difficult experience, especially for women. After thosesix rounds, they collected my stem cells, which is not a fun process. Then theyprepped me, and I had the transplant.

After, I was in isolation atthe hospital for three weeks. Then I went home, and I was still under isolationfor another 100+ days. I felt like I was ready to lose my mind. During thistime, your white blood cells are regenerating, which means you dont have animmune system, and you suffer from extreme fatigue and pain. Walking up a shortflight of stairs would wipe me out. I couldnt eat salads, fruits, basicallyanything raw. When I left the house, Id have to wear a mask to protect myimmune system. I really hated that because everyone would stare and pretty muchknew I had cancer.

However, to put a positivespin on it, because of my time in isolation at home, I really felt my creativejuices start to flow. I began brainstorming and thinking of a lot of differentthings because life is short, and the cancer was my wake-up call.

So, my best advice duringthat period is to make a reading list and binge-watch shows on Netflix. I readthe Game of Thrones series. Iliterally had a calendar counting down to 100 days. Thats also the time whenyour hair finally starts to grow back!

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A Discussion With Jennifer Delgado on Life After Cancer and Weathering the Storm - Thrive Global

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