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Mom learns to walk again after pedicure leads to cancer diagnosis

"I still have my days where I get frustrated, major pain. Just because I'm smiling doesn't mean it's been easy."

WCNC Staff

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Published: 4/26/2018 5:06:08 PM
Updated: 5:01 PM EDT April 27, 2018

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Her story made national headlines and lot of people in Charlotte are talking about the local mom who had her foot amputated after her cancer came back for the second time.

Jenn Andrews is inspiring others and is learning to walk again after her right foot was amputated six weeks ago.

“It really has been a victory for me,” Andrews said. “Having my kids be excited about my superhero foot.”

Andrews might really be a superhero.

Pedicure leads to cancer diagnosis

A simple trip to the spa for a pedicure ended in a way Andrews never imagined.

The 33-year-old mother of two hardly stops moving, but in 2013, she received news that threatened to slow her down.

"I was getting a pedicure, and the woman doing the pedicure noticed I had a small pea-sized nodule on my right foot, and you could only see it when you were massaging," Andrews explained.

Jenn Andrews

She was pregnant with her first child at the time.

"Obviously, when you are pregnant, they won’t do anything for you anyways, so I put it off," Andrews wrote in her blog.

During her second pregnancy, Andrews said the lump began to grow.

"It went from a pea size to almost a golf ball on top of my foot," said Andrews. So post baby 2, I knew I needed to take care of this issue," Andrews blogged.

The golf ball size tumor was removed.

"Ten days after I went to an appointment with my 17-month-old daughter and three-month-old son in tow, to what I expected to be just an incision check and possibly take my stitches out. Instead – I was blindsided to find out the mass removed was actually a low grade myxoid sarcoma," Andrews blogged.

Andrews was determined to achieve full remission and turn her misfortune into an opportunity: to live a healthier life while inspiring others by becoming a health and wellness coach.

"After a full year of clear scans every three months – I started to believe in my head that maybe this was in fact hormone related and since I wouldn’t be having anymore children – this would never become a problem for me again. Year two came and I got to be upgraded to scans every six months. This gave me more time to start feeling “normal” again.

"Normal as in living my life around ME and not the fear of testing every few months. Of course every time it would get close to testing time – the fear would reappear. I know – this is normal. The last year I was able to move to annual which was a big upgrade. I cried leaving the office in happiness knowing that I could have a full year of normalcy without having to worry about appointments and testing. But something was different this time," blogged Andrews.

Remission was short-lived. At her next checkup, Andrews learned the tumor was back.

"It was presenting itself in a different way as a layering so 'carving out another margin' is not an option as expected," Andrews blogged. "I just sat there, and all I could think of is, I have a 17-month-old and a three-month-old, and I don't want to miss out on my kids," Andrews said.

To live a life free of cancer, Andrews made a bold decision.

"In my first appointment when I was told it was cancer – I asked him (the doctor) if I didn’t want to deal with this again – what was my best course of action? His response was one that I never expected to hear. It was to eliminate my foot," Andrews blogged.

Move for Jenn: Friends pound the pavement for CLT mom getting foot amputated

On Monday, March 12 Andrews had her right food amputated.

Instead of wallowing in fear and grief, she pushed forward and encouraged people on social media to get out and move.

"Whether that means going for a run in the rain if it's crappy outside. Whether that means going for a walk on your lunch break, even if it's just for 15 minutes. Enjoy being able to do it because there might be a time where you want to and can't," said Andrews.

“She’s always gonna be the same mommy.”

Andrew’s daughter is only 4-years-old and she understands her mom is different, but still the same.

“I did this for (my) kids,” Andrews said. “I didn’t want to miss out on their lives.”

Far from it. After spending the last few weeks recovering, Andrews is already relishing being able to get back to the mom stuff.

“The other night I gave them a bath for the first time in six weeks and they were like, ‘grandma, mommy gave us a bath!’ We were so excited. Just a simple thing,” Andrews said.

But she still has a ways to go.

“I think it’s important for people to know while all of the victories have been highlighted, I still have my days where I get frustrated, major pain. Just because I’m smiling doesn’t mean it’s been easy,” Andrews said.

Still, she says taking those first steps when she was fitted for her first prosthetic was pretty great. And she is excited for her next steps. She will be getting a running blade and has plans to run a 5k by the end of the year.

“I’m cancer free and I’m gonna be here and I’m gonna be able to learn how to do everything over again,” Andrews said. “Having grace to be patient with yourself along with positive mindset.”

Super hero indeed.

Insurance only covers a portion of one of the prosthetics Jenn needs. Her friends have set up a GoFundMe account to help offset the cost for the others.

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