Teri Fuller

Why You REALLY REALLY Need to Read Jen Smith’s 2nd Book: What You Might Not Know–My Life as a Stage IV Cancer Patient

In breast cancer, cancer, caregiver, cells gone wild, young women breast cancer on June 15, 2013 at 8:41 pm


You should read this book–not because I had the honor of helping Jen Smith write this book but because each of us should seek to understand and support all peoples suffering from advanced cancer–the kind that can’t be cured.  Who, after all, is not affected by metastatic cancer?  Who does not have a relative, a friend, or a coworker who has been diagnosed with metastatic cancer?  And who hasn’t desperately wanted to know more about metastatic cancer to either help ourselves and/or those we love. 

Jen Smith, author of What You Might Not Know:  My Life as a Stage IV Cancer Patient, lives with a murderer. The killer has ruthlessly taken many of her friends, and forever leaves her wondering if she’ll be next. Her fear for her life is trumped only by her overwhelming concern for her beautiful young son whom she still can’t imagine leaving behind. But she has no choice. Jen has Stage IV Metastatic Breast Cancer.

In this book, Jen follows up on the triumphs in Learning to Live Legendary with a candid look at life with advanced cancer. She pulls back the curtain on what it’s like to live day-to-day with a terminal diagnosis. You’ll share her fear, her heartbreak, her uncertainty — even her guilt. You’ll even feel the impact of Jen’s disease on her friends and family, as they articulate their own reactions to metastatic cancer. From mothering to grieving to simply freaking out, Jen and her loved ones provide a raw and unflinching look at What You Might Not Know.

Advanced Praise for What You Might Not Know: My Life as a Stage IV Cancer Patient

Jen’s encouragement to fully experience the human condition and to live while dying is inspiring.

Hollye Jacobs, RN, MS, MSW, Breast Cancer Survivor, Advocate, & Writer                                              

Jen Smith is one of those AMAZING people who cares SO MUCH about sharing her story – the good and the bad – to help and empower others in the fight!!  She always keeps a positive attitude, and she is a TRUE INSPIRATION to everyone out there touched by cancer!  Our team loves her – DEARLY!!!!

–Jonny Imerman, Founder, Imerman Angels

We need more women like Jen Smith to educate us about the realities of living with metastatic breast cancer at a young age.

–Jody Schoger, Breast Cancer Survivor, Advocate, and Writer

Exiled to Cancerland, Jen Smith is a brave and reliable guide through tough, heartbreaking terrain.

–Joanna Chapman, Author of Divine Secrets to the Ta-Ta Sisterhood:  Pledging the Pink Sorority                                         

Ordering information

Request a personalized, autographed copy, send $19 ($15 book + $4 shipping) to:
Jen Smith
PO Box 7812
Champaign, IL 61826

Or pay through paypal.  Send $19 to jen@livinglegendary.org

Order on iBookstore ($9.99): https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/what-you-might-not-know/id646600706?mt=11

Order on Kindle ($9.99): http://www.amazon.com/What-You-Might-Know-ebook/dp/B00COSHS0Q/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1371346647&sr=8-3&keywords=jennifer+smith

Order on Nook ($9.99): http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/what-you-might-not-know-jennifer-smith/1115380469?ean=9781304020857

In Uncategorized on February 4, 2013 at 8:54 pm


Read her. You’ll love her too.

Originally posted on putting the grrrrr in Grimes:

“I liked tap, because I liked hearing the results of my movements.”

“There is pain and sacrifice in everyone’s world.
That’s why, when I was dancing, I had no pain. ”
- Suzanne Farrell


Today is “World Cancer Day” and a personal celebration of 2 ½ years sober.  Shocking to reflect back and realize that I have been living with cancer  for over five years—and this July will mark THREE years with metastatic disease.

I am happily shocked with how the time has flown and that I have reached this point.  When I was first diagnosed with stage iv in July 2010, I was assigned “56 months” to live (statistical ridiculousness!), so to think that I am already over the hump and sailing forward with the legendary ‘No Evidence of Disease’ and new drugs on the horizon—gives me hope.  Tap dancing on the rooftops giddiness of what my future may truly…

View original 465 more words

Why You NEED to Read Guest Blogger’s, Jen Smith’s, First Memoir: Learning to Live Legendary

In breast cancer, cancer, cells gone wild, Diagnosis, Uncategorized on December 18, 2012 at 3:49 pm


Educated as a counselor, Cells Gone Wild’s Guest Blogger, Jennifer Smith, is an elegant, yet spontaneous conversationalist whose passion is connecting with others. Trained as a counselor to listen, her words are powerful and deeply personal–inviting you to ask and answer those difficult questions that make life meaningful. Her story draws you in, her writing reads like an intimate story from your best friend. Her memoir captures a year of her journey through Cancerland and gives an inspirational look at how to truly live legendary while dying.

Here is her preface, which explains why she NEEDED to write this first book:

After being diagnosed with a terminal form of breast cancer at thirty one, I have spent much of my time learning how to live and enjoy every precious moment of my life. I have realized my time is truly a priceless commodity and to be shared only with those adding to my quality of life. I have discovered how to Live Legendary and I have spent far more time Living Legendary and cheating death than thinking about dying.

I didn’t always know how to Live Legendary. I grew up middle class, and ran with a core group of friends in high school. I didn’t win any awards for sports or academics. I wasn’t the prom queen or voted “best in class” for anything. I continued on in my life with a to-do list of things: college, career, marriage, family, etc… but that list never had anything legendary. I can’t attribute just one moment to the change. I was thirty years young when I found the lump in my right breast. I remember telling a few friends; they dismissed it by telling me it was a clogged milk duct. They had a point; I was nursing my 8-month old son when I found it. I was healthy, 5’11”, and in good shape. I worked out regularly. I didn’t even have cavities. I volunteered. I felt like I was a good person! When I found the lump, I also assumed it was a clogged milk duct from breast feeding. I had a clogged duct before, but this felt different. My clogged duct, confirmed by the breast feeding clinic, was painful. I used heat and gentle massage and the painful lump disappeared. This lump didn’t hurt. It felt like a dime sized rock under the skin, and it wasn’t going away. At my son’s 9-month baby check-up, I looked at his pediatrician and said, “I know you treat children, but I found a lump.” She was the one who encouraged me to get it checked out. I later learned she had another young mom in her practice recently diagnosed with breast cancer.

I also can’t attribute Learning toLive Legendary to when the cancer came back at thirty one in 2008. It is usually considered a fast recurrence when breast cancer comes back within a year of completing treatment. I had my first scan three months after completing treatment. I remember walking down the hall with the radiologist to view the results when I saw my radiation oncologist and head chemo nurse through the window. I started to crumble and burst in to tears. I knew. Screaming, “NO!!! NO!!! NO!!!” I started to collapse; my mom and husband held me up. Realizing this very emotional scene was in the middle of a public hallway, I said, “Get me out of the hall.” When we walked in to the radiologist’s dimly lit office surrounded by computer monitors with images of my scans, I simply said, “Where the fuck is it?” The radiologist calmly explained there were several areas, or hot spots, in my bones. I’d already endured a lumpectomy, six grueling months of biweekly chemotherapy, and seven weeks of daily radiation – a colossal amount of treatment, and somehow it had spread to my bones. Now that the cancer spread outside of the breast, it was a diagnosis of Stage IV, meaning it is considered incurable and terminal. I was thirty one and confronted the illusion of immortality.

And maybe most amazingly, I can’t attribute Learning toLive Legendary to filing and going through a divorce while being in treatment for Stage IV breast cancer. I was not in a nourishing, satisfying marriage, but I was utterly devastated when I learned my husband had led a double life our entire marriage. I still don’t know the whole story, and I’m okay with that. What I do know is that it has more twists and drama than a Lifetime movie. I know that I loved the illusion of a person. I also know what a relief it is to not have to worry about stories that don’t add up, lies, and broken promises.

So many times, I’ve heard, “Keep up the fight.” I wonder, though: what am I really fighting? My body? Cancer wasn’t the first time I’ve had my body fail me. We unsuccessfully tried to conceive for a year before I underwent multiple rounds of infertility treatments. I want to love my body, yet it’s the enemy, and I’m trapped inside. Society is hard enough on women, so seeing as I’m 5’11”, slender, and have high cheekbones, you might think I love my body. I do: now. After rounds of infertility treatment, a miscarriage, cancer, countless surgeries leaving scars everywhere, millions of dollars in treatment leaving me bald twice (so far), I do finally love my body. Because inside my body is what really matters. The body is just a vessel – full of imperfections. It succumbs to cancer. It isn’t as strong and powerful as we’d like to believe. It’s what the vessel holds that is sublime and beautiful and transcendent. It’s ironic that as I became even more scarred and mutilated, my spirit and sense of self worth became stronger and more empowered. My grace, compassion, integrity, sense of humor, and desire to Live Legendary is contagious. Or at least I hope. I often joke, “I have cancer, not cooties; don’t worry, I’m not contagious.” But this piece of me…who I am at the core -that- is what I’ve learned from this journey. I hope to share a glimpse of it with you in recalling the “Magic 7 of 2011.” This book is a tribute to all of you – you who made the Magic 7 happen. For you, I thank you.

A recent review of her book states:

Jennifer Smith is as animated in print as she is in person. Her book, Learning to Live Legendary is a magnified glimpse into a very personal battle with cancer. As you read her words, you can almost feel the very real and raw emotion with which it was written. I say “almost” because I realize that no one can possibly know exactly how she feels. They may relate but they aren’t living it. Jennifer Smith is living it. True to the title, her life is undoubtedly legendary. Throughout her story, her words emit a very palpable sense of urgency. She convinces the reader that love and happiness is not just the ultimate but the immediate goal in life. It’s clear that she has achieved it. The proof is in the pudding (made up of her astounding support system of loving family members, and the truest friends in the world.) It is thrilling to read about her fairy-tale like dreams come true, in the midst of a nightmarish reality.

Perhaps Jennifer’s burden is our blessing. I wish our lesson wasn’t learned this way but she teaches us how to live in spite of life! She helps the reader become fully aware of all the repercussions that this horrible disease brings. She dispels any myths about cancer and explains the incredible toll it takes on the mind, body and spirit. It is evident that cancer has robbed her of good health. But it is also clear that she has been rewarded with opportunities that most people can’t dream of. Her eternal optimism and innate ability to help others is nothing short of inspirational.

Does she have the worst disease? In my opinion, yes, absolutely. Does she live a legendary life? In my opinion, yes, absolutely!

To purchase the book on Amazon, click on the book below:



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