We Do Strength: How Jenise Sienkiewicz Found Inspiration through Words
left to right: Jenise's mom, Jenise Sienkiewicz and Tracy Reynolds, RN
When Jenise Sienkiewicz walked in to her first chemotherapy session, she thought to herself, “I’m walking in to win the championship game.”
Sienkiewicz, 43, of Burlington County, started to experience lower, left-side back pain early in summer 2018. She turned to her chiropractor and urologist for answers; however, the pain wasn’t muscular or skeletal, nor was it caused by the suspected kidney stones. An eventual CT scan revealed two huge masses on her ovary.
Referred by one of her trusted, longtime specialists, Sienkiewicz visited Dr. Robin Wilson-Smith, Medical Director of Gynecologic Oncology Services at the Sidney Kimmel Cancer Center – Washington Township. Finding that these masses were in fact tumors, Dr. Wilson-Smith encouraged Sienkiewicz to undergo surgery as soon as possible.
“Dr. Wilson-Smith went above and beyond to accommodate me, making sure I was comfortable and ready,” Sienkiewicz said.
When she awoke from surgery, Sienkiewicz learned she had ovarian cancer.
“I wanted to know right away. I just had this gut feeling,” Sienkiewicz continued. “I was with my mom and fiancé when I found out. Having them by my side made the news more bearable. And Dr. Wilson-Smith was so sensitive and down-to-earth; she made me feel like I was her only patient.”
Shortly after, Sienkiewicz began chemotherapy treatment. Some days she felt unable to get out of bed, but many acts of kindness and support — not only from family and friends, but from people she hadn’t talked to in years — replenished her strength.
“There was this incredible outpouring of people, helping me in every way they could,” Sienkiewicz said. “My daughter and one of my closest friends cut their hair and donated it to a cancer foundation. Another friend, who lives in Florida, mailed me cards every week!”
Throughout her journey, Sienkiewicz has found inspiration in words. She spent a lot of time journaling and surrounding herself with quotes. Her fiancé and kids bought a sign for home that reads, “In this house, we do cancer. We do chemo and sickness… in this house, we don’t go down without a fight!”
In Sienkiewicz’ journal, which she took with her to chemo, her 9-year-old daughter and fiancé would leave her drawings and words of encouragement.
“My daughter said, ‘Mom, I know I can’t be with you at every chemo appointment, but I’m always with you,’” Sienkiewicz said. “My daughter, mom and fiancé are my three biggest supporters. They’ve been so amazing.”
“I would also wear these socks that say ‘I am strong,’” Sienkiewicz said. “Every time I looked down, I had this constant reminder that I would get through this.”
Sienkiewicz attributed a lot of her peace of mind to the entire gynecologic oncology staff, including Tracy Reynolds, RN, and her chemo nurses.
“Dr. Robin and Tracy both have a wonderful bedside manner,” Sienkiewicz said. “And everyone made me feel special, especially one of my nurses, Alexis Kennedy, who took her lunch break to visit me at every chemo session.”
“This whole experience has changed my outlook on life,” Sienkiewicz said. “I truly believe that this happened for a reason. I hope to help others gain a similar perseverance through their cancer journey.”
To learn more about gynecologic oncology services offered at the Sidney Kimmel Cancer Center - Washington Township or other cancer treatment services available, please call 856-557-5400 or click here.