Vail Valley Charitable Fund: Support when I needed it most |

Vail Valley Charitable Fund: Support when I needed it most

Jen Riddle
Special to the Daily
Jen Riddle with her husband and children.
Courtesy photo

You hear how common breast cancer is. You probably know at least one person affected by a breast cancer diagnosis. The harsh statistics are that one in eight women will be diagnosed with breast cancer. One in eight — that’s a huge number.

But, you never think that you could be part of that statistic, that club. Unfortunately, I became part of that club when I was diagnosed in January.

Cue the pink ribbons.

In the fall of last year, I found a lump in my right breast. After getting distracted by work, the holidays, family and kids, you know “life,” I finally made an appointment to get it checked after the New Year.

I went in for my first ever mammogram, which then was followed in quick succession by an ultrasound and a biopsy. A few days later, it was confirmed … invasive ductal carcinoma … breast cancer.

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My whole world was spinning. To say that receiving a cancer diagnosis is traumatizing is an understatement. It’s a savage, devastating, shocking, completely shattering feeling. I was 39 years old and I wasn’t even due to start getting regular mammograms. I was recently married with two small children, and I had so much more life to live. I was completely crushed and scared.

Not thinking this could happen to us, my husband and I did not plan for such a diagnosis. Two quick pregnancies, a new business, COVID times and now cancer, we were pretty much just getting by with our finances (and our sanity!).

From the beginning of this unwelcome journey, our community has been so amazing and supportive. The amount of genuine and heartfelt help we’ve received from friends and family and local organizations has been immeasurable.

Immediately after my diagnosis, the Shaw Cancer Center, the Vail Valley Charitable Fund and The Vail Breast Cancer Group reached out to offer their assistance.

We received a grant from VVCF which ended up helping us tremendously by paying for hospital bills and other expenses not covered by our insurance. The VBCG assisted with some personal care items that proved vital to my well-being. The Shaw Cancer Center set up counseling options, assisted with insurance issues and established a treatment regimen.

It’s amazing we have these resources right here in our backyard. This valley’s earnest care, empathy and generosity have made it possible for me to spend more time with my family during these trying times, allowing me to enjoy the moments, rather than worry about what to make for dinner or if the mortgage will get paid.

It’s been eight long months full of hospital visits, chemotherapy and immunotherapy treatments, surgery, side effects and healing with barely time for anything else. Cancer is legitimately the worst full-time job.

I have completed the two most daunting hurdles: chemotherapy and a double mastectomy, and I am happy to report that the chemo worked, and I am in remission! While I have more work and additional challenges ahead of me, including targeted therapy and years of hormonal therapy, I feel extremely lucky and fortunate to be able to say that I am currently cancer free.

I was one in eight. I was crushed. I was spinning. But now I am a survivor and the Vail Valley Charitable Fund, The Vail Breast Cancer Group, The Shaw Cancer Center, my doctors, nurses and caregivers, and my family and friends have each contributed to my success.

We are beyond thankful for this Vail community we live in and everyone’s thoughtfulness, direction, candor, continuous follow-up, care and support. For that, my family and I are forever grateful.

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