Janna’s Story: What Cancer Gave Me

Janna (far right) and her sisters prior to her cancer diagnosis

Janna (far right) and her sisters prior to her cancer diagnosis

At age 32, Janna Ripp had never taken any serious medications or even stayed overnight in a hospital, so you can imagine how her world came to a stop when she was told she had cancer. “The air felt like it was sucked out of the room,” Janna says. “I had questions and my brain was spinning with thoughts, I was in total disbelief.”

Janna was diagnosed with Acute Lymphocytic Leukemia (ALL), a blood cancer most commonly associated with young children and older adults. Janna, of course, was neither. “One day I’m going to work like a normal person and the next I am told, without treatment, I had 3-6 months to live.” She was told right away that part of her treatment would include staying at least 30 days inpatient at Aurora St. Luke’s Medical Center in Milwaukee.

Janna heard the words, but couldn’t accept it. So in the six weeks following her diagnosis, Janna went in regularly for lab work and received platelet and blood transfusions, but waited to start chemotherapy. Instead, she tried an extreme diet, going completely raw and organic. She had hoped to clean out the toxins in her body and rid herself of the cancer. But unfortunately that wasn’t enough, and Janna decided to move forward with chemotherapy.

She stayed at Aurora St. Luke’s for 33 days, and had nine more rounds of chemotherapy after that. But thanks to the level of care she received, Janna is now able to call herself a cancer survivor. She just passed the one-year mark since her initial diagnosis.

WVBO's Skip Willis with Janna at the Lombardi Walk for Cancer in Oshkosh

WVBO’s Skip Willis with Janna at the Lombardi Walk for Cancer in Oshkosh

Janna shared her story at this year’s Lombardi Walk for Cancer in Oshkosh, telling the crowd she was thankful for the care she received. “All of the nurses, doctors, CNA’s, housekeepers, receptionists and social workers I met through Aurora…. Everything you have done has played a part in getting me to this point,” said Janna.

And instead of focusing on what cancer took away from her life, Jenna remains focused on what it has given her; friendships that have been tested and strengthened, new bonds with other cancer patients that go deeper than anything she imagined, and most of all,  knowing that she has the strength and will power to LIVE, no matter the odds.

You can still support local cancer care by making a gift to the Vince Lombardi Cancer Walk in Oshkosh, Walworth County or Milwaukee Walk/Run events. Visit aurora.org/cancerwalk for more information.

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