There were no support groups for young breast cancer survivors when Janell Nickols was diagnosed more than two decades ago. Now the 61-year-old James City County resident uses her experiences to show young survivors that a full life after diagnosis is possible. “I want to get the word out to other women that we can survive,” she said.
Janell encourages women to listen to their intuition and to pay attention to their bodies. Twenty-five years ago she was living in New York and happened to watch a biography about Minnie Riperton (best known for singing the 70s song “Lovin’ You”) who passed away at the age of 31 from breast cancer. After seeing that show Janell began to think that she didn’t feel quite right. She had no major symptoms but was later diagnosed with breast cancer.
“The cancer was detected because I listened to myself, my husband listened to me, and my doctor listened to me,” Janell said.
Janell is not normally a fan of having her picture taken because she always seems to blink just when the camera flashes. Other than that, though, she loved the photo shoot from start to finish. “I loved all the attention!” she exclaimed. “I am an extrovert and I loved getting all dressed up for the photos.”
Janell teaches fifth grade at Stonehouse Elementary School. She and her husband James have two children, Jennifer and Joel.