Jen Gallagher on the rideMy name is Jen, and I’m 51, and I have been married to my high school honey since 1992. I have three adult young men. 24, 20 and 20.

In September of 2013, I went to the hospital for help for the horrific pain I was feeling on my left side. They found a rare and very painful infection in my left ovary. I came home with a prescription for the infection and an appointment to see the urologist the following day. ER doc said something about seeing a shadow and being able to get me into the specialist immediately. I had a large mass encroaching on my left kidney. I had to wait until November for an arm machine for the kidney removal. The arm would be the best chance of getting the entire thing without leaving spores behind to get me later. I remember the doctor saying it would be 6 months to a year before I would feel normal again. I literally laughed out loud. I’m busy, I’m tough, that was ridiculous.

Well….It was a solid eight months before I could go to the store, get a few groceries, come home, and not spend four days in bed completely wiped. My dad had to move in for months to get the kids to and from school. Dan, my husband, cooked Thanksgiving dinner and did 100 percent of Christmas that year. Months are a blur. It was a rough surgery and a rough recovery. I got better. I picked up, and I didn’t look back …… No …. Not at all. I didn’t talk about cancer; I didn’t talk about surviving. I felt like a fake, a poser. I didn’t need chemo, radiation, or years of fighting, so I wasn’t a real survivor.

Fast forward to October of 2021. I was a new rider with the Warrior Angel Riders (WAR), and we were participating in the Wigged Out Ride. I dressed in my pink, ready to ride. I was invited to ride up front with the other survivors. Wow. I was honored, but I still didn’t feel I belonged. We rode to the first hospital, St Francis in Federal Way, and met nurses – this was the very hospital that saved my life; every emotion I had shoved down for years came flooding in. I was bawling. I hugged Sue. I thanked her for allowing me to feel worthy of surviving.

That moment changed my life. During the next year, I lost weight, and I worked out. I worked on me. I went to my doctors and got back on track with my health. I got my out-of-control diabetes into control. 80 pounds gone, I fight the weight daily but am still working hard through menopause and hormonal issues. It’s an up-and-down battle, but I know I’m worth it. For the first time, I’m worth it.

Jen Gallagher and her bike 1After my second Wigged Out Ride, I was excited to get more involved and help more intimately with this cause. Between all my surgeries (I also have had back and hip surgeries), my medications, my fast weight loss, and my menopause, I was quickly losing all my hair. In 2023, I gave up the hair fight and started wearing wigs, and recently I shaved my head. This was a recommendation from my doctor in an attempt to stimulate new hair growth. Maybe I’ll get some better hair coming back in. Who knows? I’m ok either way. Bald, hair, or a wig. I got this.I became an affiliate for “Wigs for every woman.” I earned my wig consultant certification, and I was even chosen to be on their website. I offer consulting to women struggling with this new wig world. I’m new at this, but anything I make with my wig adventure is going right to the Wigged Out Cause. I’m hoping to help patients with wigs in the future! I was honored to go with Sue to meet the amazing people making things happen at the hospital and see where the wig fittings happen. I’ve started my wig donation collection and can’t wait to see what we can achieve during the month prior to our ride. Helping this event has helped me and allowed me to be the full person I am. I’m meeting awesome humans, and my heart is full of hope and joy.

A sister survivor and WAR member has lost her friend Jenny this year to cancer. Many of us will be riding with her photo on our shirts. I ride for Jenny, I ride for all we’ve lost, I ride for me, and I ride for love and hope. Ride with us, and support us however you are able. This organization doesn’t stop at wigs. Patients get massages, facials, acupuncture, resources, and education.

I can’t think of a more deserving group.