Mom Who Found Cancerous Tumor During Pedicure Runs 5k Just 6 Months After Foot Amputation
Six months ago, Jenn Andrews didn’t know if she’d ever walk again. But on Saturday, the 34-year-old completed a 5K race in Charlotte, North Carolina, with a new running blade — and a new lease on life after losing her right foot to cancer.
“It was amazing! I couldn’t believe I ran the whole way,” Andrews, of Charlotte, tells PEOPLE, noting that the race marked her longest distance since getting the new prosthetic blade to help her run. “I didn’t stop at all, I didn’t walk at all.”
Andrews, a wellness coach and mother of two, used to run three to five miles a day, several times a week. But her life was turned upside down earlier this year when she learned she’d need to have her right foot amputated due to sarcoma.
She garnered national attention earlier this year after revealing in a Facebook Live video that a pedicurist found a “pea-sized” tumor on her right foot, leading to the diagnosis. Andrews had the growth removed once, but when the low-grade myxoid sarcoma came back a second time, doctors told her that amputation was her best option to become cancer free.
“I remember that moment like no other,” Andrews wrote in a blog post of the moments she learned she’d have her foot removed. “The shock of a response you never in a million years expected to hear. My jaw fell — my eyes welled with tears — my stomach dropped and my whole body got hot. I was there in the room but I was numb.”
An active mom before the diagnosis, Andrews started the hashtag #MoveForJenn to encourage people to move on the day of her surgery. She figured if she couldn’t move that day, at least she’d get others involved. The video has been viewed more than 85,000. times.
But it’s Andrews’ latest video, of her crossing the finish line at Saturday’s race, that she’s even more excited about.
“I felt so accomplished for the first time in a really long time,” Andrews tells PEOPLE, adding that both her husband, Miles Andrews, and her oncologist, Dr. Joshua Patt, ran with her.
Dr. Patt, an orthopedic oncologist at Levine Cancer Center, says he was nervous watching Andrews run so soon after her surgery but he was also extremely proud.
“It was awesome. The doctor in me was analyzing her gait the whole time to make sure she was okay, but to see her cross the finish line,” Patt tells PEOPLE. “I kept remembering six months ago when she asked me if she’d ever walk again and I told her I’d hoped she run again. It was exciting to see her complete it. Her attitude is amazing.”
Andrews says her kids — Hannah, 5 and 4-year-old Ari — have helped with that.
“My kids are my biggest supporters and I feel like our situation has been a learning process,” she says. “They don’t look at people who have differences any differently and that’s something that’s been really great of this whole thing.”
Andrews’ latest scan shows that she is cancer free. So, she’s focused on her new organization, the Move For Jenn Foundation, which will fund cancer research and raise money to help provide sarcoma amputees with activewear prosthetics. The company that makes them donated her running blade.
Along with running the foundation, Andrews is also planning for her next race.
“I don’t feel like my old self. I feel like my new self. I’m learning that I can do all the same things, I’m just figuring out new ways of doing things,” she tells PEOPLE. “Just because there’s obstacles, doesn’t mean it can’t happen. Being able to finish this race is pushing me to set new goals. I’ve never done a 10K. It’s time to do one!”