When Jennifer Kennedy was diagnosed with breast cancer for the second time last year, she felt numb to the news.
She was concerned for her life, for her future and for her finances. At the time, she was unemployed and was worried the medical procedures and doctors’ visits would cause her to go bankrupt.
In a hope to find answers and support, the Santa Clarita resident spent countless hours searching for information and answers to her personal and financial concerns.
The resources the two-time breast cancer survivor found inspired her to start her own organization, Footprints in Pink, to help other women diagnosed with breast cancer navigate everything from medical questions and doctors’ appointments to community support and financial resources.
“I’ve always been in social services so I’ve always wanted to be the helper of someone,” Kennedy said. “I feel like there’s so much you can do for people and help them through that journey.”
Since July 2016, the organization has worked to provide private consultations, assistance, information, product lists and free drain aprons, chemo caps and breast pillows to the one out of every eight women diagnosed with breast cancer.
“The first consolation would be a Skype consultation or home consultation,” Kennedy said. “When someone is first diagnosed we ask what kind of resources they need because we don’t want to bombard them.”
After this consultation, Footprints in Pink provides each individual with personalized information for their needs, an information sheet called “Breast Cancer 101,” a list of questions for their doctors and a list of local resources and California resources.
Footprints in Pink also directs residents to companies and organizations that assist women with breast cancer in Santa Clarita Valley like City of Hope for cancer care, Valencia Pharmacy for mastectomy bras, the Gilded Lily for breast tattoos, Saugus Pharmacy for oncology mouthwash and HAIRsations for wigs.
Recently, the organization started a service where representatives accompany women to their doctors’ appointments or mammogram appointments and drive them to their medical appointments.
“If you go to the doctor’s office, we will go and write notes for you… we’ll be right in the thick of it with you,” Kennedy said. “You don’t even know your name when you hear those words [that you have breast cancer] and that’s when we step in and say let’s help make this easier on you.”
The Santa Clarita City Council recognized Kennedy’s work with Footprints and Pink and its regular meeting Oct. 26 after Mayor Bob Kellar met with Kennedy at a City of Hope Open House event.
“It was fantastic,” Kennedy said. “I had breakfast with the Mayor… I told him all about my business and he said he wanted to recognize me. It was a fabulous experience.”
To those facing the news that they have breast cancer, Kennedy recommends that individuals get a second opinion, focus on only the facts and accept the change that will happen.
“Only focus on the facts because the what-ifs will kill you,” Kennedy said. “Everyone goes through the numbing experience. It is a new normal and you have to get used to the new normal of who you are.”
Footprints in Pink’s overall goal is to help people in any way that they can, whether that be through books, emotional support or general information.
“This is my passion now and I’m truly here to help people,” Kennedy said. “I have the experience of someone who has gone through it and can understand all of the emotions that you go through.”
On Twitter as @_ChristinaCox_