The Gift of Giving Back 3

Jeanette Breeden’s Ordinary Life Has Taken Some Extraordinary Turns

“The meaning of life is to find your gift. The purpose of life is to give it away.” Pablo Picasso

When a friend of Jeanette Breeden’s approached Lifestyle Publications about sharing Breeden’s story with its readers, Breeden’s initial comment was nothing shy of humble. “I’m one of thousands with a story to tell,” she says.

That is certainly true. Some are better than others and most are quite ordinary. In fact, Jeanette’s story begins about as ordinary as one can be.

She grew up on a Colorado farm, the second of three girls. She studied nursing at the University of Arkansas and worked for many years as a surgical assistant in Franklin.

Jeanette and her husband, Phil, have been married for 40 years and have three grown children. Nearly 30 years ago she left her job in order to help Phil start a new business, and so that she could be a stay-at-home mom. Today she and Phil have one grandchild with another one due this month.

Friends describe Jeanette as an “exceptional household/domestic engineer” who grows her own vegetables, cooks like a chef, has an immaculate home and beautiful yard.

It’s sounds like the kind of life that most would hope for, even if it doesn’t read like a thriller. But this ordinary story is set against an extraordinary backdrop.

That’s because every day, Breeden lives her life in terms of how she can help others. How she might assist her parents, ages 87 and 89, who still live on their own in Franklin. And how she can be there for her sister, Barbie, who has cerebral palsy and attends BrightStone in Franklin during the day. “I try to stay available for my parents and my sister,” says Breeden. “My parents are amazing examples of caregiving and living life to the fullest plan that God placed before them.”

In order to be close to Barbie, Jeanette volunteers with BrightStone, a community for those living with disabilities and a provider of social support for adults with special needs.  Jeanette is involved with BrightStone golf and bowling events, songwriters programs and the annual Christmas presentation.

Because for Jeanette Breeden, a 14-year breast cancer survivor, the giving comes easily. She knows what it’s like to confront and endure the emotional and physical pain of a mastectomy, chemotherapy and radiation. She knows how daunting the unknown can be, and she knows what it’s like to emerge, smiling and healthy.

Since October is breast cancer awareness month, she shares how this past struggle, and her subsequent survival, has inspired her own life. “Knowing God was always right beside me has helped me through both good and bad times,” she says. “I am so thankful.”

She’s certainly not one to call attention to herself so sitting down for a magazine interview and photo shoot was stepping outside her comfort zone. “I’ve been attempting to work on some different projects and try some new adventures. And this is one thing I can do toward meeting that goal,” she says. “I felt I’d be putting myself down if I didn’t do it. It has helped me look ahead and move forward. You know, look at your bucket list!

“What I want is for others to be inspired by my story and to, hopefully, be comforted by it. If someone is facing a similar situation today as I once did, I want him or her to know that it is possible to rise above it.”