Jenny Loyd doesn’t wait for life to come to her. She runs toward her goals headlong, leaves no time to waste, no chips on the table, and no energy for tomorrow if she can maximize it today.
“You have to enjoy every minute. You have to jump into it, not wait for things to happen. Life’s short. You don’t have time to waste it,” Loyd said.
These are the lessons life has taught her, particularly since 2014, the year in which she was diagnosed with cancer at age 33, lost her mother to a long-term illness, and discovered her long-time relationship was actually a ruse.
It all began to go down Feb. 11, 2014 when Loyd was diagnosed with invasive ductal carcinoma: high-grade cancer of her milk ducts. Two weeks later, she began what became 15 rounds of chemotherapy at Mission Hope Cancer Center.
“There I was, no hair, poopin’ and barfin’ all the time, trying to stay positive because if you don’t, you’re going to hit the bottom and you’re not going to make it,” Loyd said.
Mid-way through her personal health battle, Loyd lost her mother.
“Mom had been ill for many years. She had rheumatoid arthritis and autoimmune disease, and she was diabetic. It all took a toll on her body,” Loyd said.
And, she believes, the stress of worrying about her mother’s well being over years led to the loss of her own.
“I swear to God this cancer was caused by stress. No one in my family has had cancer. That was really tough, but I knew mom didn’t want me to quit fighting. I really pushed myself to fight for her,” Rasch said.
She took her fight to the mattress, leaving the man she’d been with for 13 years after discovering that, even while she was undergoing treatment, he had been cheating on her.
“I was in a relationship that wasn’t healthy. He was there for me, but he was never there for me. He would leave a lot in the night. I knew something was going on, but you’re just trying to survive,” Loyd said.
After the chemo came surgery for a double mastectomy, six weeks of radiation therapy, then the reconstruction surgery, she stood up to him and took hold of her life.
“I fought for me and my family. My mom fought for a long time. She wouldn’t want to not see me fight. I wasn’t going to sit there and let someone take me down after all I’ve gone through,” Rasch said.
Eventually, she fell for long-time friend Billy Wallace. They got engaged, started talking about creating a family of their own, but long-term planning, particularly where children might be concerned, was daunting.
“When I met Billy I was 36, so I knew time was short for me to even have kids. Because of everything I went through, I didn’t know if I could have kids. It was all so quick I didn’t have time to save eggs,” Loyd said.
Doctors told Loyd that her reproductive tract had aged about 10 years, but “there were still a couple eggs in there. They didn’t all die from chemo. That there’s a chance, if you’re young and your body’s strong, that you could still have kids.”
In fertility counseling, doctors told Loyd and Wallace to give themselves some time.
Six weeks later, Loyd suspected she was pregnant. She took an at-home pregnancy test, texted images of the test to her sister to confirm the results, and rushed down to the local medical clinic for a professional opinion.
“I’d never heard of someone having kids after chemo. I swear that’s my mom helping,” Loyd said.
Once confirmed, she took the test results home, wrapped them up, and presented them to Wallace when he arrived home from work.
“He just said, ‘Oh my God! I’m going to be a dad.’ He said it over and over again. We started crying. We were so excited,” Loyd said.
River Clark Wallace, their son, was born in early December 2017.
Now five years cancer free, Loyd is back to her dog grooming business, Muddy Paws, River is happy and healthy, and the family enjoys regular walks along their favorite path, the Bob Jones Trail.
“This is what life’s about. This is what I fought for. This is why I’m here today. I had reasons to be here still. I have such an amazing life ahead of me. I can’t wait to see what’s next. I have this amazing son. It’s unreal,” Loyd said.