Bama's Bright Light

Every so often Bama Ears would like to shine the Bright Light on an exceptional parent. Our first to highlight is Mrs. Jennifer Andress. Her two children are hearing impaired due to Connexin 26. John (age 6) is currently using hearing aids, and Will (age 4 ½) wears bilateral cochlear implants. Jennifer serves as V.P. of the Service Guild, which is a service organization solely dedicated to The Bell Center’s Early Intervention Programs. When she’s not running marathons chasing after her two boys, she's running them for The Bell Center partners-in-training program for the Mercedes Marathon. She and husband Keith also run in Atlanta’s Thanksgiving Day Marathon as well as other races in our area. Looking at her active lifestyle you would never guess her past. Here’s a little hint ...

(She and her son John are closing the van's back door.)

When her first child, John, was 11 months old, he needed tubes for his ears, and this is when they found out he had a hearing loss. With Jennifer already carrying baby number two, John was fitted for aids and soon after, she found out she had precancerous growth in one of her breasts. She has a long history of breast cancer in her family so while 24 weeks pregnant and a 1-year-old, she had a mastectomy. A few months later baby Will was born, and she soon began radiation. But before that treatment began came Will’s hearing tests, in which he was also determined to have hearing impairment just like his big brother.

A few months after completing her radiation, Jennifer had a second prophylactic mastectomy and breast reconstruction with an eight-week recovery period. Remember, Jennifer also has two hearing-impaired children to care for, but she manages along with her very supportive and loving husband. Within weeks of her final recovery, baby Will had his first cochlear implant surgery and a year later had his second.

Jennifer says she’s had great support throughout from all of their doctors, health care professionals, church, friends, family, and notes “God is great!" Today when she’s not making commercials for Breast Cancer Awareness, or helping with the Bell Center’s service organization, or running half-marathons, she’s preparing John for first grade and still has a year to prep Will for kindergarten. Congratulations, Jennifer, Bama's Bright Light is shining on you, a true inspiration.

If you would like to nominate someone as an exceptional parent for Bama's Bright Light, please email us at bamaears@yahoo.com . They need to be an Alabama Parent of at least one child with hearing loss.

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