Four-year Komen Austin breast cancer survivor, gardening enthusiast, speaker and author, Jenny Peterson connects people to the natural world to enhance a healthy lifestyle of balance and joy. We at Komen Austin are thrilled to have Jenny Peterson as our keynote speaker at our 5th annual Pink Party this year!
Aside from being a speaker of wise words, Peterson has been creating gardens since 2001 beside her team at J Peterson Garden Design. Peterson can create elegant courtyards, funky meditation spaces, lush tropical retreats to the crafting of the perfect front yard oasis. She incorporates native Texas plants in gardens that are drought tolerant and low maintenance.
Below is a Q & A with our MAD About Pink! keynote speaker Jenny Peterson.
What do you look forward to most at MAD About Pink! being the keynote speaker?
I am thrilled to be the Keynote speaker at Pink – it’s such an honor to speak on behalf of Komen Austin. I’m looking forward to having fun while meeting new people and talking about what Komen Austin does for women like me.
How and when did gardening turn from a hobby to a full-time passion of yours?
I come from a family of gardeners, so I have been gardening for some time, but it wasn’t until about 2005 that I started my business, J. Peterson Garden Design. A friend from high school was the general manager at a local car dealership, and he gave me the job of upgrading the landscaping – I took the job and off I went! Then in 2009 I began writing about gardening, and in 2014 started writing and speaking about gardening and wellness.
You have many talents and writing is one of them. What inspired you to write “The Cancer Survivor’s Garden Companion: Cultivating Hope, Healing & Joy in the Ground Beneath Your Feet?” Is there another book in the making?
I found my garden to be so healing during my own treatment and recovery, and I wanted other people going through similar difficulties to know that the garden is there to help them, too. Wherever you are in your life, whatever you are facing, the garden can help you to find peace and hope.
You are a 4-year breast cancer survivor. Tell me a little about the journey and what Susan G. Komen® services you were provided with.
I had just gotten engaged to Brett, my longtime love. I moved into his house in south Austin and within 3 weeks began going through the diagnostic process for breast cancer. Being self-employed, I was uninsured, and my biopsies were going to total $15,000 – not something I had set aside. With one phonecall, Komen Austin turned what was one of the darkest and most frightening times in my life into one of hope. Because of Komen Austin, I was able to focus on my health without worrying about how to pay for it. I will always be grateful.
What is one piece of advice that you would like to give to those that are being affected with breast cancer?
So many times, people diagnosed with cancer are encouraged to have a “positive attitude.” A positive attitude is nice, but what I encourage others to do is to cultivate a sense of hope. Hope is much deeper and more profound than simply being positive, and it can come from many sources. You can have hope for a cure, hope for peace with your diagnosis and prognosis, hope for meaning in the midst of difficulty. Hope is the one thing I cannot live without.
Who is your biggest inspiration?
My mother, Sue Nybro – she was diagnosed with breast cancer at age 49 (the same age I was at diagnosis), and died of metastatic breast cancer at age 60 when I was 26. My mother was a kind, strong, generous woman – everything I strive to be. She showed me how to live with hope, no matter what your circumstance, and to give thanks for what you have been given. I give thanks for the many people who have surrounded me and held me up during my journey, and Komen Austin is at the top of that list.
We can’t wait to hear Jenny Peterson speak on behalf of Komen Austin at MAD About Pink! Pink will be a night to recognize all those who have been affected by breast cancer.