Janean Hodgson: full circle with luck and Wellspring
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.
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.”
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.”
“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.”
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.
Profound Enrichment – Thanks to donors
“There are very few free spaces in the world where you can go for support and nourishment, and where you can just exist and reap the benefits without having to pay.
I know from my own perspective and from others who have accessed Wellspring – there is so much going on when there is a major shift in the axis that is your world, that being able to come to a place like Wellspring, and knowing you can have access to a huge range of programs and services without cost – is a tremendous relief.
I really want to say thank you to our donors. Wellspring is deeply enriching and so important to so many facing cancer in our province. Your gift is magnificent – it’s life-giving.”
Thank you for sharing your story, Janean. I know it’s not an easy thing to do. Continue to find the joy and share your gifts of wisdom with those we serve. You are an inspiration to those who know you and those who will come to know you 🙂
Thank you so much, Gina, that means a lot to me! Very grateful to work for this wonderful organization <3
Janean your story is so touching and real. You bring so much love and energy to everything and everyone, never change. Thank you for sharing your journey.
Thank you Scott, it means a lot to me to hear that. I promise that I will change– but that particular part of me will stay the same 🙂
Thank You for sharing your journey Janean, you are an inspiration.
Thank you Christine, that is so kind of you to say!
Hope to meet you one day Janean, you are a bright light and an inspiration.
Marilyn O, Peer Support Volunteer
I sincerely look forward to that day, Marilyn! Thank you so much for your kind words.
thanks Janean for sharing your story – you are an inspiration to us all.
Thank you Ena, that is so incredibly kind of you to say!
Thank you so much Janean for sharing your personal journey with Cancer. I have already experienced your kindness and expertise with assisting me with sign up and knowledge of the large calendar of events with Wellspring. I am struck by your advice to “shift your perspective” – especially trying new things. Thank you!!
Oh Susan, it should be me who is thanking you! Thank you for your kind words and it is always such a joy in getting to help our amazing members!
I just read your story, Janean. It is hard to imagine what it must have been like to hear the word ‘cancer’ at your young age. I am happy you found Wellspring, which is such an amazing resource! Sounds like you found exactly the right programs. I hope to meet you sometime. You are an inspiration!
It would be so amazing to meet you as well, Marilyn, and thank you so much for your kind words. Like so many of our members, Wellspring has been such a space of care and belonging for me! It’s an honour to get to be an ambassador for such a tremendous organization.
Janean thank you for sharing your story with all of us! Your passion for your work and commitment to our members shines thru everyday. We are blessed to have you as a part of the Wellspring team.
Thank you Teresa, I could not do what I do without amazing colleagues like you! So happy to be a part of this team
Thanks for sharing!
I’m just checking out Well Springs. I was diagnosed 2 years ago, pelvis and neck vertebrae cancer, un-curable. Stage 4.
Wowzers Janean!!! What a story you have shared. Feel so fortunate to have met you through volunteering at W.Spring. What an incredibly strong and resilient individual you are. Also brave to share your journey.
The whole family is very proud of your many accomplishments to date, and of course there are still many more to come