Janean Hodgson: full circle with luck and Wellspring 2

March 31, 2023

This past July, Wellspring welcomed another extraordinary human to its program support team.

Janean Hodgson is not just a bright, tender-hearted person who embodies the perfect mix of compassion, empathy, and positivity to be an awesome Wellspring program coordinator; she is a brilliant young adult who has recently overcome cancer herself.

“One of my favourite things in the entire world is helping other people, so I naturally gravitate toward roles where I get to do that. At Wellspring I feel like I’ve come full circle … getting exactly what I needed as a member, and then getting the chance to give back as part of the staff team,” said Janean.

Generational Cancer

Janean’s earliest memory of cancer was hearing that her grandfather had it, when she was too young to understand what it was. In her teens, cancer hit closer to home when her father was diagnosed with melanoma, and fortunately survived and is well today. But nothing quite prepared Janean for the day she would hear the words directed at her; a day that came just a month after her 30th birthday.

“Being a young adult and telling your parents you have cancer is heartbreaking,” she said. “My parents live in Saskatchewan, so I Zoomed them the day I found out. I’m pretty sure my mom swore – which is not typical of her at all. And my dad just crumbled. He knew what it felt like – he has been there.”

The Hodgson family

Janean was surrounded by close friends, her parents, and her partner who provided her with the love and support she needed to face the full-day surgery, and to navigate the road to recovery. “I’ve spent the last year rebuilding both mentally and physically and I’m slowly getting back to myself. It’s been tough – but my partner is my rock.”

Lucky Charm

“My grandparents always used to call me their ‘Lucky Charm.’ They are not with us anymore, but now I wonder if they were right, maybe I am lucky. For instance, we were living in Calgary at the time of my diagnosis and the neurosurgeon I got is an expert in my type and location of the tumour. It was a total blessing. The surgery saved my life. Then my partner’s job took us to Edmonton, and that is the only place in the province where you can get the radiation procedure I needed, so that was also a blessing,” she said.

Janean also attributes her ‘luck’ to finding her way to Wellspring. “My boss at the time was living with chronic cancer. She sat me down and gave me a list of everything I would need to get through this, and one of the things was Wellspring,” said Janean. “I am so grateful to her. She was an invaluable support and resource to me. And she was right – I did need Wellspring.”

Shift in Perception

For Janean, cancer came with a new lens for viewing simple luxuries like pushing your limits of achievement, embarking on new adventures, meeting challenges with undaunted precision … all things she once mastered without breaking a sweat.

“I don’t view cancer as a gift – it’s the crappiest gift you could ever get. But what I was gifted with is a shift in perspective. The ability to slow down and take some time for myself. To work on myself – not just the bits of me I wanted to improve but the parts I had never explored before,” said Janean.

Her journey of new self discovery, began with programs at Wellspring.

Wellspring as a Member

“One of the very first programs I took was Creative Journaling. This was exactly what I needed. There was so much understanding and compassion, but also joy and laughter in that Zoom room. Knowing that if I was too tired to attend – it was okay – no one judged me. Coming from a ‘go – go – go’ attitude, I had always held myself to a very high bar – I don’t often miss things. Being given permission to not have perfect attendance, to be kind to myself and take care of my own needs first … this was the permission I didn’t know I needed.”

Janean and her partner

Along with several more art programs that sparked delight and stirred her untapped her well of creativity, Janean also signed up for Brain Fog and Returning to Work.

“Having your brain opened up (surgery) – you definitely end up with some brain fog – there are some clouds that slip in there! Getting to take a class that gave me tangible ways to help with my recovery process was fantastic. The group was amazing and the leaders were knowledgeable, patient, positive and very encouraging, which is something you need when you feel like you are operating at a reduced capacity.”

The Return to Work program gave Janean the skills to evaluate her path forward in terms of her career, and to have the confidence to put her health and well-being first. “This program helped me return to work with proper expectations and to make sure where I landed would be conducive to my continued health and recovery. It meant a lot to know I didn’t have to think about going back to work alone – I had the support of Wellspring on my side.”

Wellspring as Part of the Team

Now Janean is a part of the Wellspring team and she calls it an honour to be able to help others who have shared her path, as well as those who are new to Wellspring and have so much to gain from programs and service.

“When I found Wellspring as a support, I went from feeling like it was ‘ME’ in this cancer struggle – to becoming an ‘US.’ It was very empowering.

“With the two Wellsprings in the province becoming one Wellspring Alberta, I really believe in our slogan Better Together. We ARE Better Together, and absolutely no one should have to face cancer alone. WE are going to get through this together,” said Janean.

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