Choose a job you love and you will never have to work a day in your life.” — Confucius
Ever since I was a little girl, I have always loved to write and ask questions. Television journalism was the right fit from the start. The fact that I don’t mind being in front of a crowd or a camera helps too.
I got my start in the small town of Wausau, Wisconsin. I had just graduated from college and a news director at WAOW-TV took a chance on me. I began as a producer/video-journalist. My next job was in Tyler, Texas at KETK-TV. My family is in North Dallas. Taking a job close to home was awesome! I was hired as the Weekend Anchor. I held that position for two years. When the main anchor position opened, I immediately expressed my interest. When my News Director told me I got the job, I could have cried. It was a dream come true. I had always wanted to be a News Anchor and have been anchoring from the main chair ever since. I now Anchor the news in Springfield, Missouri at KOLR10-TV.
I was anchoring a 10 pm newscast during “breast cancer awareness month.” The segment focused on checking yourself and being proactive about your health. As soon as we hit a break, I realized I hadn’t checked myself in a while. So, I did. And I found a lump. I immediately freaked out and thought the worst. The next day I called my Mom. She said to have my doctor check it out and not to worry. She tried to reassure me that it might just be a cyst. So I went about my work with it in the back of my mind. Two weeks later I had my annual exam. At the end of the visit, my doctor confirmed she felt the lump too. My head was spinning. The next day I had my first mammogram followed by an ultrasound. By the looks of the doctors’ faces and the immediacy of them getting me in right away, I knew it wasn’t good. I scheduled my biopsy two hours after the ultrasound. My Mom dropped everything and drove to my house. She took me back to the doctor. We were so scared. I’ll never forget the fear that I felt and the sound of the machine they used to take a sample of the tumor — a loud staple gun. Tears just rolled down my face.
Being a journalist, I asked a lot of questions. After he took the last sample, I asked him the most important one: Is it cancer? Although he couldn’t tell me for sure until the test results came back, he told me to prepare myself. That following Monday, October 18, 2010, I was told I had cancer. And the back-to-back doctors’ appointments started. By November 1st, I had a lumpectomy. The pathology report indicated I was stage 1, grade 3 invasive ductal carcinoma. The surgery was followed by six months of aggressive chemotherapy, 30 days of radiation and five years of hormone therapy.
By February of 2011 it was apparent my body had gone through some major changes. I lost all my hair and wore a wig to work and was gaining weight from all the steroids. I had a glow about me from all the drugs I was on. It wasn’t long before I started receiving emails and phone calls asking me why I looked different. People just didn’t understand. So I knew it was time to let people know I had breast cancer. The station I worked for at the time, KETK-TV, put together a story about my medical journey and we shared it with viewers. It was so scary, but everyone was super supportive. Between my family, friends and co-workers — I had a huge support system.
I truly believe getting out of bed every day and going to work helped me in my recovery. It was the one thing that didn’t change for me. It was the one thing I worked so hard for. And it was the one thing I was not going to give up. I never called in sick to work. There were days when I probably would have been better off at home. Some days I couldn’t even see the teleprompter.
This August my husband Coleman and I will have been together for seven years. He was with me through my diagnosis and treatment for cancer. He’s held my hand through my hardest times. He’s wiped my tears in my darkest hours. He’s been my rock, my caregiver, my love. He’s kissed my bald head and told me I was beautiful every day. So when he asked me to marry him, of course I said yes! We had always talked about having a big family with lots of kids; he would coach little league, I would be the mom who brought the cupcakes and spoiled the kids. But sadly, we knew our dreams of a big family might not happen, especially since the chemo I was on had possibly damaged my reproductive system. This news was devastating. It took me a long time to come to the realization that we might not have the big family we always dreamed of. But I still prayed every day. I still kept hope in my heart that one day even if we were to adopt, our dream would come true. We would have children. But for the time being I was happy with our two pups. It was just the four of us.
We were married in October of 2013 and a week later we packed up and moved to Springfield, Missouri and my new job at KOLR10-TV began. Life kept going. Life was good. I was cancer free.
When I met my new oncologist in Springfield, I soon realized that every doctor is different. She changed up my hormone therapy a little bit. Soon after that I was struggling with the Tamoxifen. So for my own well-being, I took a break. During that time my doctor gave us treatment options. One of them was to stop taking the Tamoxifen temporarily and try to have a baby. But first we had to get my body back on track. We had so much hope. We were cautiously optimistic, knowing that might not happen for us. We took two separate fertility tests. The first one didn’t give us the answers we were looking for. Months later we repeated the test. Before finishing the second part of the test, my doctor and I discussed the realization that a specialized fertility doctor might be a good option for us and might be in our future. Looking back now, I laugh. We were actually pregnant during that conversation. My husband and I are expecting our miracle child this summer. A true miracle baby. Our prayers have been answered.
I know it’s scary when you are told you have cancer. It was one of the worst days of my life. But I promise, after all the tears and hardships, life after cancer is just so much better. I promise. You begin to see life in a different light. You learn who your true friends are. You cherish the little things, you love harder, you live larger. You take chances and you make changes. You literally get a second chance. I always say, God’s not done with me yet. I’m still a work in progress. Pretty sure being a Mom is what HE had in mind.
There are days that I reflect how my job probably saved my life. Because I was so young to be concerned about breast cancer, my cancer might not have been caught so early. I wish to use my story to help other women to be pro-active in their health and to serve as an example that God is not through with you either!
You can find Jennifer Kielman, anchoring alongside David Oliver, Jamie Warriner and Dan Lucy on KOLR10 News at 5 p.m., 6 p.m. and 10 p.m. And, at 9 p.m. on KOZL. To continue to follow Jennifer’s journey, follow her on Facebook at “Jennifer Kielman.”
Join Jennifer for the first annual “The Power of Sharing Your Story” event at the Country Club Hotel and Spa at the Lake of the Ozarks, May 2, 2015. For more information, visit www.BreastCancerWellness.org/May2.
Fill out the form below or Power of Sharing Your Story flyer.