In June 2022, Molly Jordan of Marion, went to St. Luke’s Breast and Bone Health for her annual mammogram. She hadn’t been experiencing any symptoms and expected it to be routine. However, results showed a questionable spot, and she had a biopsy and ultrasound the same day. A few days later, she got the call.
“It was stage 2C breast cancer,” shared Jordan. “I found out it was triple negative, which is not a good kind to have.”
Triple-negative breast cancer, meaning the cancer cells don’t have estrogen or progesterone receptors and don’t contain much of the protein called HER2, differs from other types of invasive breast cancers. Triple-negative breast cancer grows and spreads faster, often requires treatment with chemotherapy or immunotherapy and typically results in worse outcomes.
Cancer Treatment and the Side Effects
Jordan began chemotherapy and immunotherapy treatments and after a few months, in October, underwent a right breast mastectomy and lymph node removal performed by Dr. Kerri Nowell, surgeon with Physicians’ Clinic of Iowa. Following the procedure, she received good news. Her tumors had shrunk, her cancer was no longer invasive, and there was no disease in her lymph nodes.
“It was like the best-case scenario,” said Jordan.
Due to the aggressive nature of her cancer, Jordan finished out her course of chemo after her surgery and was able to ring the bell. While she was happy to wrap up treatment, it hadn’t come without its side effects. Like many people who undergo chemotherapy, Jordan lost her hair.
“I had blonde hair down to the middle of my back,” said Jordan. “Losing it was devastating because it’s part of my identity. It was part of what makes me, me.”
Providing a Wig Through a Partnership with Strands of Strength
The Nassif Community Cancer Center partners with many local organizations who help our patients and their families. One of those organizations is Strands of Strength (SoS), a Des Moines-based organization whose mission is to provide new wigs free of charge to cancer patients.
“We’ve partnered with SoS for about the last seven years,” shared Nancy Yeisley, oncology social worker at the Nassif Community Cancer Center. “We’re proud to be the first cancer center they partnered with outside of the Des Moines metro area. They started working with us to serve patients in the corridor and are now in many communities throughout the state.”
Jordan was one of many beneficiaries of this partnership. She received her SoS voucher for a free wig and chose to use it at Jeffrey Scott Salon in Cedar Rapids, one of SoS’s many partner salons.
“Jeffrey Scott himself was the one who helped me pick a wig,” shared Jordan. “He took so much time with me. He was patient and really made me feel like everything was going to be okay.”
After trying on several wigs, Jordan picked one Scott had on display and was able to wear it home. Scott also showed her how to brush it, and even gave her a product to help slow the loss of her eyelashes and eyebrows.
“That night when my husband got home from work, I was wearing my wig and he saw how happy I was,” recalled Jordan. “He called Jeffrey Scott personally to thank him for helping me and giving me some confidence back.”
Keep a Positive Outlook
Jordan’s diagnosis was not the first time she faced a cancer battle. She lost her first husband to stage four neuroendocrine cancer almost a decade ago. Though he passed away, Jordan witnessed his positive attitude and how it helped him throughout his cancer journey.
“Even though it was stage four, he would always joke with the nurses during treatment,” said Jordan. “We’d always get him his favorite latte from the coffee shop to keep him lifted up too. The nurses told me he lived a lot longer than many people who have his same diagnosis because of his positive outlook.”
Jordan took the same approach with her cancer journey.
“When I was diagnosed, I vowed to stay positive, because I know worry and anxiety takes not only an emotional and mental toll on a person, but a physical toll too,” she said.
Don’t Let Cancer Become your Identity
Jordan is a firm believer in not letting cancer control your life and wants to encourage others to take the same approach.
“I know it’s hard not to dwell on the fact you have cancer,” she said. “Really try to not make it the sole focus, because life still goes on around you and you need to live it.”
Her SoS wig from Jeffrey Scott Salon helped her do just that.
“When you get the SoS voucher, even if you aren’t sure you want to wear a wig, do it anyway,” she said. “It can make a world of difference for your confidence and outlook. Be brave and take that step.”
We Help you Face Cancer with Confidence
Cancer is more than just a diagnosis and treatment. It can bring with it a whole host of new challenges – physical, mental and emotional – and having a team around you to provide support in all those areas can help you face cancer, and survivorship, with confidence. For more information about our partnership with Strands of Strength, and other community partners, as well as our wide range of support services, call us at (319) 558-4876 or visit communitycancercenter.org.