Breast Cancer Survivor Update: Embracing a New Normal

Jess Riney’s story of breast cancer survival continues to motivate others. The 39-year-old’s journey is included in a new book called “Embracing the Impact of Cancer” (available through Amazon), and she will speak at the upcoming Komen More than Pink walk in Springfield.

“Currently my health is great,” Jess said. “I feel extremely grateful. I had my most recent six-month scan just over three weeks ago, and it came back all clear. As I look at it – I’ve completed two full years of remission and I’m kicking off year three!”

Jess is helping fundraise for the Komen More than Pink walk with her team, “The Pink Sunflowers.” She based that name on the Helen Keller quote, “Keep your face to the sunshine and you cannot see the shadows. It’s what the sunflowers do.” She clung to that quote during her cancer treatments and leaned on her family to provide the sunshine. But she also relied on her doctors, nurses and other supports available to her throughout her journey.

Now, she sees her oncologist every four months to check in, and her next scan will be at her annual mammogram. The learning curve continues as she settles into remission.

“Figuring out how to live as a survivor in remission is a different ball game than during active treatment,” Jess said. “While active treatment took a physical and emotional toll, remission feels like continued healing while carrying the emotional weight of it all. Our youngest started kindergarten, and our oldest started second grade in August. During that same back-to-school week, I had my breast MRI. It was a bit of a high-emotion week!”

While she felt confident the outcome of her scan would be good, she admits there will always be anxiety surrounding those routine checks.

“You think about the what ifs and attempt to prepare for your life to be sent into a tailspin, but you also try to stay positive and not let the weight of it pull you down,” she said.

She focuses on maintaining a healthy lifestyle, staying active and eating a nutrition-packed diet. She volunteers at the kids’ schools. And she still regularly attends breast cancer support group meetings.

“I plan to for as long as my schedule allows it,” she said. “It means a lot to me to be a part of that group of amazing women.”

Interested in learning more about cancer support groups?

Contact Tia Rapps, BSN, RN, with Springfield Memorial Hospital and the Regional Cancer Center at 217-588-5154 or email