Janell Horsman

Married Mother of 4
Stage 3 Invasive Mammary Carcinoma

The doctor turned towards my husband and said,’ I give him three months to live’. She was talking about our son, Nathan- he was 4 months old and diagnosed with a rare genetic disorder called SMA type 1. He lived to be 7 months old, he had red hair like his Mum and blue eyes like the ocean and he was precious to us. We had three unsuccessful pregnancies before he was born. After one angel flew, we adopted four others- one at a time. Two boys and two girls (Zach, Kaylee, Aren and Elie Rose), with a surprise pregnancy to top our blessings off. If you’re doing the math, that made 5 under the age of 5- yup, we are totally and undeniably crazy! Our last born son, wee Ethan, was diagnosed at 6 weeks of age with SMA and lived to be 4 months old. He died in November, just like Nathan- five years apart.
Our baby boys are buried side by side in a little country cemetery- near my parents home. It’s a perfect little, tree swept hilly, green cemetery- that lends visually well for romping children and all things living and lovely. That is what our boys are, just living and lovely behind the veil.
Now, I know this is supposed to be my story, and it is- I promise, but my children are the foundation of my story and so I wanted to start with theirs. I want you to know as you read about me, that above all else, though my life has had been challenging- my days have been blessed!

My name is Janell Horsman, I am 39 years old. Seven weeks ago I found a lump, it sounds kind of cliché but that is how it really happened.
Following my work out one night, after showering- I felt a lump in my left breast. I called my Doctor and he had me come in. We scheduled a mammogram (my very first) for the following Tues and the tech ordered an ultrasound that same day. Early the next week, I had a biopsy and by the end of the next day, my doctor had called me and said simply ‘the results are back, and show positive for cancer’. Boy it’s those short and sweet sentences that bring the heart ache! Bless his heart; going in to all these tests, my Doctor did not think that this would be the results- none of us did. I was diagnosed with invasive ductal carcinoma, stage 2, triple negative.
Three weeks ago I had a double mastectomy, with the placement of expanders. Next Friday I start chemo for 6 months. I guess this means Santa hat’s for Christmas photos!

When I was 20, I married a wonderful man, whom I met at college. BYU- go Cougars! He was the cute boy with the even cuter Australian accent. He is from Tasmania, Australia (yes, there really are Tasmanian devils- no they don’t look like Disney said) and his family all still live there. I made up my mind and decided to keep that cute boy- and that was that. It has been 19 years and he is still the man smiling at me, every time my day begins and every night when my day is completed. With four living children and two adults, we do not travel ‘down under’ the way we dreamed of when we first planned our lives together. Even though I know he misses his family (he has been home twice in all these years); he has never regretted our lives together, or the trials that we have met hand in hand together.

The expense of having two terminally ill children and subsequent funerals, was absolutely devastating to us; financially and emotionally. Our four healthy and beautiful children grew in my heart and not under it, yet the expense of adoption is no small thing either. I wanted so badly to squirrel some money aside to take us to Tassie finally, now that all that dust had settled- and then my diagnosis came. My husband is once again stressed about finances, but he is a very hard worker (he worked to serve a 2 year mission in Papa New Guinea when he was 19, and he worked to bring himself to America- without knowing a sole – I find that amazingly honorable)! Until three years ago- I was a stay home mother, because we felt a great significance in creating strong foundations for our little ones. After total financial devastation twice in our lives, I can see a familiar fear in my husband’s kind brown eyes. Gladly though, we have much better insurance and this is such a relief. I also am blessed these past three years with a fantastic job, in an amazing office, for a completely awesome man, Dr and friend! All of these things add up to limit the expenses we will be facing in the next year to something that, with effort, can be conquered, rather than something completely unfathomable!

If trials were dollars, perhaps we wouldn’t have a mortgage and an onslaught of medical bills- but such are the way of dreams! My husband has not asked me to carry any kind of worry over our future. He wants me to focus on healing, and he gives me strength to do that; once again carrying the weight of these things, on his square shoulders. He works, drives our four very active teenagers to all of their events and he cooks (truly) and cleans and falls into bed exhausted- alone each night; because I have not been able to sleep in our bed since the surgery (thank goodness for recliners).

Our dear friend told us about this website. I think this is such an amazing idea! I have learned through the years that service to another, is a very good way to forget about the things we all endure day to day. Many people ache to help, but in this kind of battle where there really is little that can be done; aside from prayers and good energy- which is no small gift! This program allows others to do something that directly eases medical debt, and also wear something that gives a positive message to others. Worry cannot take away the pain that this life can bring, but being happy can most definitely ease it.

I am a high energy, red haired, silly, roll down the hills, jump in the puddles, belly laugh kind of bright eyed girl- and always have been. I don’t plan to ever change the way I approach things in my life! I have such love and support and so many blessings, that I could never look into the eyes of any challenge and adopt a persona of ‘woe’. Aren’t there enough dark shades already? What are we on this earth to do, if not buoy each other up and bring smiles to one another faces? I love smiling faces, but I love that I have been trusted enough in this life, to be in the company of crying eyes too. I read a saying once that said “those who do not know how to truly weep, probably do not know how to truly laugh either”. I believe it is the experiences of this sort, and the positive learning that we take from it- that allows us to both weep and laugh, love and empathize with others. I feel that there is no race, religion, color or heritage that changes this simple truth.

I have gone into the battle against cancer as any true, red blooded Scot
(MacDougall) would do- fist in the air, pipes playing and red hair blowing (at least for another week, then its bald and beautiful- tartan scarf a
blowing- ha!) I know there will be battle scars in this journey (heck, I already have some- I’ll show you mine, if you show me yours)! I understand fully that this diagnosis will change my life permanently, I cannot control that- but I can have a say in what energy it leaves to light within me. I want to illuminate! My path has not been easy, but if I had the power to go back and change my experiences- I wouldn’t. How could I wake each day to a beautiful hope of promise, kiss my healthy husband, rise from my warm bed, let my hyper Scottie dog outside and listen to the waking sounds of my house full of children and be anything but overwhelmed with happiness!

I have learned not to try and plan each day as I would, but enjoy the gift that all these crazy moments are meant to be. I hope the brave heart that my parents gave me and the font of love my husband shares with me, and the ability to accept the care of others when needed, and to care for them in
return- will be things that endure in my children as they grow into adults and face their own challenges. Thank you for reading my story. I hope that you have found a reason to smile today!