Janice CogginsJanice Coggins is a cancer survivor, educator, spiritual leader, speaker and now, author.

Janice began her healthcare career as a psychiatric social worker at the University Medical Center in Jackson, Mississippi. Assigned to the dialysis/transplant unit, she met human suffering and death for the first time. Her experiences there propelled her to get a master’s degree in social work to help others navigate life’s struggles. Later, Janice moved to Lafayette, Louisiana where she took on the job of Director of Social Work at Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital.

But it was Janice’s work at the University of Louisiana that gave her the most satisfaction. Janice taught at the university’s College of Nursing. Working on a five year grant from the National Health Institute, Janice’s role was to teach life/study skills to nursing students. She also offered one-on-one counseling. Janice found the change from the hospital setting invigorating. Keeping several steps ahead of inquisitive students “definitely keeps you on your toes; it was a great experience,” Janice says.

While still in Lafayette, Janice worked as a grief counselor and was a founding board member of Hospice of Acadiana. This experience was enriching beyond words. She learned early on from her patients that the end of life isn’t as much about dying as it is about truly living. Working from a reality therapy-based philosophy, Janice urged her patients to take responsibility and focus on what a person can do in the here and now about their problems, instead of dwelling on the past or trying to understand why things happen. Today, Janice credits her hospice experience with help on her own cancer journey…..she learned that every day is the present which we can “INjoy” if we open ourselves up to the many blessings around us.

Janice received her Bachelor of Science degree from Delta State University in Cleveland, Mississippi and her Master of Social Work from University of Southern Mississippi in Hattiesburg, Mississippi. Janice is a certified spiritual director and an ordained minister. She is a passionate activist for ovarian cancer awareness and treatment and is presently creating the Teal it Up Foundation, a nonprofit charity that sponsors golf tournaments to raise money for ovarian cancer research.

Janice resides in Arizona and Colorado.

From Jan ...

“I have always considered myself a survivor. Tested over the years with a series of health issues, I worked hard at finding solutions -- and I succeeded every time. So, when I was blindsided with an ovarian cancer diagnosis in 2010, I knew survival was my only choice.

“I was stunned when I first heard the news of my illness. I was healthy, exercised, ate organic fruits and vegetables, followed a low fat diet and led a steady faith-filled life. Nothing on my radar showed that ovarian cancer could be on the horizon. The more I learned about this wicked disease, the more determined I was to beat it. It has no boundaries and is relentless once it invades your body. And, it is the fifth leading cause of cancer deaths in women.

“Once I accepted the reality of my diagnosis, I knew I had to spring into action and figure out how I was going to LIVE with this cancer. I knew I had to lean into this disease and find my courage and inner strength. I used five anchors -- FAMILY, FRIENDS, FAITH, FOCUS, and FINISH -- capto keep me grounded and safe, so to speak, in uncharted waters. These anchors proved to be my security blanket; they were always with me through each step of my cancer journey. I now wear a baseball cap embroidered with F5 and I am glad when people ask me what it means. I want to share what gives me strength for battle. F stands for the Fighter in me; it’s the fire that fuels the day. This is what worked for me. Each person will find their own resolve and make it work for them. Cancer wants to beat us, but I refuse to give it an inch. One day, maybe, but today I’m not dying. I am living with a grateful heart.

“I am now passionate about getting the message out. I have created the Teal It Up Foundation to raise money for ovarian cancer research. I serve on the Board of Sisters in Survival and I am a volunteer with the National Ovarian Cancer Alliance program, Survivors Teaching Students. This program sends ovarian cancer survivors into medical schools across the US to teach second and third year medical students the symptoms they were having that precipitated the diagnosis. Basically, we tell our story…we get feedback that they never forget our faces and our stories. The survivors that are chosen to speak are the misdiagnosed (which was my case)…and is often the case with ovarian cancer. …this is one of the favorite things I do. I know it makes such a difference because we all start out in a doctor’s office, so if we can educate the medical community, then we truly can save lives. Ovarian cancer has often been referred to as the silent killer, yet few of us were silent, just not heard. The Survivors Teaching Students program is in over 84 medical school in the US and now we know our stories are heard. I have been speaking at The University of Arizona Medical School for the last two years.

Ovarian Cancer? You can NOT be serious! is my contribution to the effort to educate women about this disease. I am a retired social worker in the healthcare field and I always believed I was very knowledgeable about women’s health issues and our health care system. Wrong. Turns out I knew virtually nothing about the disease, its diagnosis or its treatment, all of which would change my life forever. “


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