Connecticut Magazine - Survivor Stories. Jenn Eckart: Singing strong after overcoming thyroid cancer
Bridgeport’s Jenn Eckart knew Jeanette Chen from Grace Community Church in New Canaan. Eckart was the strategic operations director there. “I was sick for two years after a thyroid cancer diagnosis in 2011, and now I’m perfectly fine,” she says. “Jeanette was just getting started at the time with her website, and she researched my illness, creating the soups, healthy drinks and smoothies that helped combat the disease.”
The lead singer and bass player for Green Eyed Lady, a Fairfield County-based rock band, Eckart worried that her voice could be lost because she had a tumor wrapped around her vocal cords.
“I was told before surgery that I might be talking through a voice box if it didn’t go well,” she says. “There were no guarantees I could sing again. My voice is fine now, though lower than it used to be. But I can sing.”
Eckart decided to take advantage of her recovered voice, and is now a full-time singer/musician. She is still amazed by Chen’s dedication to her.
“Jeanette was a fantastic friend when I needed her most,” says Eckart. “Not only for making me food but for visiting me in the hospital and at home, and bringing meals not only for me but for my whole family. She was one of the key people to help me relearn how to eat, not just to combat illness but for a healthy lifestyle going forward. She had a big impact on my understanding of food and what it means to be healthy. I adopted a lot of her recipes that are part of my diet today.”
Eckart explains that Chen making multiple trips to see her in Bridgeport soothed her mentally, and verbal communication between the two was not important.“
A lot of our time together was just being quiet,” she says. “After surgery on my vocal cords I wasn’t allowed to make a sound for two weeks, and spent a year recovering my voice. So I did a lot of note writing to people. There were times Jeanette would visit and I would write notes and hand them to her. Other times we would just sit together quietly.“
She had four kids and was a busy lady. She gave me so much time and energy. It was around the time when I think she was deciding that it was her second calling.”