85-year-old cancer survivor shares her own inspirational story

Breast cancer survivor Janet "Jan" Clements of Springdale with one of the afghans she made for the veterans. CONTRIBUTED

Janet “Jan” Clements, 85, of Springdale is an inspiration to everyone she meets.

She not only spends time volunteering at Hospice Care of Middletown, she sets aside every Thursday for “Grandma’s Day” with her great-grandson.

“Hospice Care of Middletown likes to sponsor veterans, and I make red, white and blue afghans for the veterans. So, anytime you see a red, white, and blue afghan out of hospice, that’s one I’ve done,” she said.

She also likes to read, take walks, crochet, and talk to and text her friends. Clements did more socializing pre-COVID, including regularly meeting a group of grade-school friends for lunch at Olive Garden, but lately she says it has been quiet.

Clements was diagnosed in 2011 with breast cancer at the age of 76. She said getting an annual mammogram, along with early detection saved her life. Now she continues to do the things she loves the most like volunteering, making afghans, and spending time with family and friends. She has three great-grandchildren and five grandchildren.

ExploreA guide to breast cancer services around the region

“Well, I almost didn’t get the mammogram that the diagnosis came from because I had always had regular mammograms, and I thought I had read someplace where after you reach a certain age, you shouldn’t worry too much about getting mammograms. This was in 2011, and I was at the doctor’s office, and I said, ‘What do you suggest?’ ‘Should I get a mammogram or not?’ ‘I don’t seem to have any problems,’” said Clements.

After some discussion with the doctor, he advised her to go ahead and get the mammogram, which she did.

“My reaction was total surprise,” she said, “It was just surreal. Not me? How can you tell me I have cancer? Look how good I feel. That lasted 48 to 70-some hours, and I thought, ‘Let’s just get on with this, get over whatever you are feeling sorry for yourself about, and get on with it. And that’s the way we handled it.’ I had excellent care.”

Clements was living in Florida at the time. She had a mastectomy for treatment. Clements said she had the choice of whether to undergo chemo or radiation, and she decided not to be treated with chemo or any radiation.

Explore'Save your strength for the fight!': Breast cancer survivors, patients and advocates offer their best advice

“Since then, it has just been once a year that I get a mammogram on my existing breast and I get a check up on the area of the mastectomy and everything has been fine, and they say, ‘Happy Anniversary’ every year,” Clements said.

“If I had any advice, and I did do this a lot after I was diagnosed, anytime I would talk to somebody who was in doubt about getting a mammogram, I told them to do it. Get the mammogram, because my life would have been entirely different had I not gotten that mammogram,” she said.

Her positive outlook has contributed to staying healthy. She was busy at that point in her life, and she only had to slow down for a short time. Then, she was back to doing all of her regular activities. Now, she has an attitude of “total gratitude” and she said she’s “very grateful.”

Clements has been volunteering for Hospice Care of Middletown for about two years, and she has made well over 100 afghans.

Hospice Care of Middletown regularly conducts a Virtual Veteran Pinning Ceremony. The pinning ceremony is part of the “Hometown Warrior Pride,” program developed by Hospice Care of Middletown. During the ceremony, veterans are presented with a retired star from an American flag, a certificate of appreciation, a patriotic afghan made by Clements and a special veteran pin.

ExploreHow you can ‘make strides’ against breast cancer

“It’s heartwarming to see how they react when they present them with an afghan,” Clements said.

Every Thursday, Clements also has “Grandma’s Day,” where she spends time with Lori and her great-grandson, Cayden, who will turn 2 in November.

“I would not be here today, had I not gotten that mammogram, I feel quite sure of that. I’d be missing out on ‘Grandma’s Day.’ There’s a lot of living to do. Just keep those appointments for the mammograms every year,” Clements said.

In Other News