When cancer comes back

cancer recurrence

Jennifer Kelley

As the editor of Thrive, I always love when the patients I meet have taken advantage of some of the support services the Cancer Center offers, such as guided imagery for stress relief, coordinating rides through the Practical Assistance Center or starting the Fitness Walking Program to combat fatigue. Rarely do I meet a patient like Jennifer Kelley, who actively seeks out support services and sees them as opportunities.

Take art therapy, for instance. She saw a flyer three years ago and continues to participate in monthly sessions with art therapist Margaret Nowak.

“I needed something to help me through the difficult time after my treatment ended,” says Kelley, who received a stage 4 diagnosis and expects her cancer to return at some point. “Depending on the project, sometimes cancer comes into the discussion. A lot of people feel less stressed. Some even feel less pain. I think creativity must release endorphins that make us feel good.”

Kelley has also participated in guided imagery, a support group for women living with advanced cancer and the new Life Images of Today and Tomorrow photography program.

“It’s not that I make cancer the center of my life, but these are opportunities I wouldn’t have had were it not for the cancer,” she says.

For lymphedema symptoms, she went to physical therapy to combat her symptoms.

Take the next step:

  • Read Jennifer’s full story in Thrive, which not only gives a glimpse of some of the support programs at the Cancer Center, but her views on living a quality life with advanced cancer.
  • Check out another patient’s story about coping with a recurrence of cancer in this Thrive article.
  • Learn more about cancer recurrence in this Q&A with the U-M Cancer Center’s Anne Schott, M.D.


Summer14Thrive magazine is a quarterly publication of the U-M Comprehensive Cancer Center, offering inspirational patient stories, news and information on programs and services, tips on coping and living with cancer and more. Find Thrive in the Cancer Center or online.



University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer CenterThe University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center’s 1,000 doctors, nurses, care givers and researchers are united by one thought: to deliver the highest quality, compassionate care while working to conquer cancer through innovation and collaboration. The center is among the top-ranked national cancer programs, and #1 in Michigan according to U.S. News & World Report. Our multidisciplinary clinics offer one-stop access to teams of specialists for personalized treatment plans, part of the ideal patient care experience. Patients also benefit through access to promising new cancer therapies.