A family journey

August 10, 2021

It was late spring of 2018. I accompanied my wife, Jennifer, to a biopsy after a mammogram revealed a mass in her right breast. We both hoped it was going to be routine — a cyst or something like that. When I was outside the exam area on a conference call for work, I heard her call to me that I needed to get into the room. She said that they found irregular tissue in the breast and around the lymph nodes. Later that week, the diagnosis came back — stage II or III breast cancer (depending on how many lymph nodes were found to have cancer cells). I thought — this only happens to older people; my wife is in her 30s?!! Jennifer had a mastectomy and lymph nodes removed just a few days shy of her 38th birthday. (It was in fact stage II as the surgeon removed three lymph nodes).

Praise God that surgery was successful, and then onto chemo and radiation! This is where the long season was. We had 4 months of chemo (given once every 3 weeks), followed by 5 weeks of radiation (5 days a week). As her caregiver throughout her treatment, I felt like I could finally contribute to her care instead of just standing on the sideline. The self-sacrificial attention that is needed for a cancer patient is not dissimilar to a good marriage — and her needs while undergoing treatment made this come to life in a very real way. Taking her to and from appointments, helping her rest by managing the house and kids, and keeping germs away from her became routine. I’m so very thankful to be given this opportunity to contribute to her care!

Jennifer and family ring bell to commemorate the end of treatment.

Jennifer has been cancer-free for over 2 years now. Prior to this journey I was so very ignorant about breast cancer. I thought, “Stage I/stage II, no big deal — that’s totally curable.” I’m grateful that the treatment has helped us, but the impact of getting to that cure is incredibly difficult and painful. I thank the Lord every day that I get to spend with my wife, and that we caught it as early as we did. She is such a fighter, and with God’s grace she has become and remained cancer free!

Fast forward to 2020. With heightened concerns after an experience with cancer, she (like all of us) was tossed into a global pandemic. Everyone started wearing face masks (which wasn’t a bad thing for those in treatment), and COVID-19 posed a significant risk to cancer patients. I saw people touching their faces with masks on, adjusting them, hanging them up in their hot car during the summer, and not washing them often. I thought that this created as much risk as the reason for wearing them — all of the germs and bacteria that we touch and exhale would just get transferred to the mask, which we would then place back on our face. I thought that there should be a solution to address this, and that’s when Cavere was born — a face mask spray to cleanse your mask in-between washings.

One thing I have learned through my wife’s cancer is that everyone’s journey is unique, and there will always be people who have had it better or worse from a treatment and life impact standpoint. The one common element is that we all have to live beyond breast cancer, which is why I feel such a connection with LBBC. And if our story or the product I created can help one member of the community in any way, then it was all worth it. Take care, and God bless.


Chris Winston is the husband of Jennifer Winston, who was diagnosed with stage II breast cancer in 2018. He lives in the California Bay Area with his wife Jennifer and three children and enjoys going to Northcreek Church in Walnut Creek and ski trips up to Tahoe when not working. Chris is the founder and CEO of Cavere, a consumer products startup specializing in natural air and fabric care.

 

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