LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) - Twenty-three years ago a Lufkin woman learned she was pregnant then found out she had cervical cancer. As she went into a surgery to remove the cancer the doctors told her when she wakes up she might not be pregnant anymore but that wasn't the end of her battle.
Jean Ann Keen is enjoying retirement. She spent more than 30 years teaching at Garrett Primary in Lufkin. She just watched her oldest daughter, Kylee, get married but Jean Ann had some obstacles to conquer before making it to today.
"23-years ago, in January, I thought I was pregnant," Keen said. "We already had one daughter, Kylee, she was about two-years-old at the time.
But that wasn't the only news she got that year.
"They found out that I had cancer which is always a surprise," Keen said. "My question was 'I've been having PAP tests every year, I just had one less than six months ago, how can this be' and he said well it may be fast growing."
Jean Ann had cervical cancer but more heartbreaking than hearing her diagnosis was what doctors said next.
"We don't think you can have this baby which meant they needed me to terminate the pregnancy which just killed me," Keen said. "It was awful. They told me they could save me but they didn't know if they could save the baby."
She ended up in a doctors office who performed abortions.
"My question to God was, 'How can I face a decision like this? I can't win on this. If I don't take care of it I may die and I've already got a daughter and a husband that I don't want to leave but if I do take care of it then my baby dies and I don't get to have that'," Keen said.
Jean Ann says she was praying the whole time. She really didn't want this to happen so she asked the doctor if there was anything else he could do and it turns out the doctor was friends with the head of gynecology at MD Anderson.
"I'm just sitting there thinking God who would have thought you would bring me to an abortion doctor to get me where I needed to go."
Two days later she was in Houston scheduling a surgery to get rid of the cancer but the surgery came with a 50-50 chance she would lose the baby.
"I went in not knowing if I would be pregnant when I woke up. I always remember the nurse waking me up. She was nudging my should and said Ms. Keen wake up, you're still pregnant....and it was wonderful and Karyn is 23-years-old now," Keen said.
Jean Ann beat cervical cancer with no chemo or radiation.
But in 2002 she and her family were on their way to Austin for spring break and were involved in a serious car accident.
"We were going through the curve and when we got to the second part of the s another car coming the other way cross the center line and hit us head on," Keen said.
Jean Ann said she knew God was with them in the car and although it was a serious accident her family was all okay.
But cancer would come back to haunt her again.
"When I got the call saying I have breast cancer of course you go through all the anxiety and the questions but I knew immediately God was going to take care of it," Keen said. "I knew he might not take it away, which he didn't, I went through some hard things. Breast cancer is tough and the stuff you go through is awful."
She had a mastectomy and completed her final chemo treatment in May.
"My hair is coming back a little bit, slowly but surely," Keen said. "I'm cancer free right now so I can't complain."
She said she received so much support from her church family at Carpenter's Way and from the American Cancer Society. She says the Cancer Society is more than just an organization that raises awareness and funds for research but they help cancer patients on an emotional level.
Jean Ann says no one ever wants to face a cancer diagnosis but there is hope.
And she is proof of it.
"I've got hope for looking towards the future. I am not the same person that I was before cancer but hopefully God's made me a better person," Keen said.
Jean Ann got to go to her oldest daughter's wedding in Colorado this summer and she got to watch her youngest daughter, Karyn, who survived Jean Ann's cancer, graduate college and start work.
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