Jan cherishes the mother-daughter bond she has with her daughter, Kirsten, and credits the young woman as the reason she’s still alive.
“My daughter saved my life,” Jan said.
Kirsten kept noticing a spot on her mom’s face and would often say, “It looks like it could be cancer, Mom.” But Jan gave it no mind at first – until her daughter’s persistence prevailed.
Jan eventually saw several doctors, one of them being Dr. Anil Dhople, a Health First oncologist. She was diagnosed with squamous cell carcinoma, a cancer on the right side of her cheek.
Jan would undergo surgery and received radiation treatment, but through it all, would always be thankful for her daughter.
“‘Mom, I probably saved your life,’” Jan recalls her daughter saying. “And she did. My sweet girl, who shortly thereafter my diagnosis, lost her battle unexpectedly with liver complications at the tender age of 28.”
Jan and her husband, Al, were devastated.
During her road to recovery, Jan would often dabble with painting, but it took on a different meaning after losing her daughter and becoming a cancer survivor. Her therapy came in the form of illustrating poems and paintings on more than 100 slate stones.
No two stones are the same on the front, with each one having a different picture or poem. The only similarity is what Jan puts on the back – her daughter’s name and initials.
“To give her a memory, a memorial to her,” Jan said.
Jan hopes the slate stone poems and paintings she gives to family, friends, neighbors and even her team of doctors, will help send a message.
“When people have a positive outlook, they’ll find out that they could have a positive result in their fight against cancer and anything else they encounter in life,” Jan said.