Jenni Palmer was told she had cancer at age 20 and reflects on the day that changed her life.
Daffodil Day – Cancer doesn’t stop, so we won’t either.
Since the first Daffodil Day in 1990, the yearly cancer incidence rate has doubled and is expected to continue doubling every 25 years.
“Every day, 71 New Zealanders will find out they have cancer. With the demand for the Cancer Society’s services increasing, support is needed more than ever. Daffodil Day symbolises hope and inspires communities to come together to support people living with cancer”, says Rachael Hart, Chief Executive of the Cancer Society, Otago and Southland Division.
Jenni Palmer was told she had cancer in February 2020 and reflects on the day that changed her life.
On my 20th birthday, I flew alone to Christchurch to have a PET-CT scan to stage my cancer. I had eight tumours, and I finally had a complete diagnosis that I could put to my illness: nodular sclerosing Hodgkin’s lymphoma.
One of the questions I get asked a lot is, “What did you think when you were first told that you had cancer?” I’m a bit embarrassed to admit this, but my first thought was, “Oh no, I’m going to have to drop out of university.”
It may initially sound like a superficial response, but I came to realise that university represented my independence, my new friends, and my aspirations for the future. As medical appointments and illness took over my life, feelings of vulnerability, humility, and a loss of dignity became ongoing challenges.
Finishing chemo and then finally being in remission many months later, I didn’t feel relieved, just exhausted and lost. The mental battle is much harder on the other side of treatment, and the pressure to make the most of my second chance has been overwhelming at times.
It has taken me a long time to accept that I have changed due to cancer and accept the new me, complete with my new limitations. I am also learning to accept my new strengths forged through my experiences and the incredible people I have met.
I have learned how much I value my independence, and how to ask for help and embrace being vulnerable. None of these positives from my cancer journey would have come without the incredible support of those around me. I have the most amazing group of friends, who sat with me at chemo, were shoulders to cry on, gave a hard word when I needed one, and were absolute rocks of support, and I am so grateful to you.
I was fortunate to be supported by several organisations, including the Cancer Society. My cancer journey would have been very different without the support of these incredible people and organisations.
Daffodil Day symbolises hope for Jenni and all New Zealanders impacted by cancer. For 31 years, this iconic event has inspired people to come together and support the Cancer Society's work.
Donations can be made at daffodilday.org.nz – please give generously this year.