THE MNY SPOTLIGHT

Meet Jen Farmer, this year's Mestiza Muse

A few weeks ago, we asked the Mestiza community to nominate a woman in their life who has either succeeded in the face of adversity, has a story to tell, or does something good within their community.

In lieu of this week's Tastemaker Feature, we're spotlighting Jen Farmer as our Mestiza Muse. She worked as a radio personality for nearly 2 decades until she was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2016. While she's currently battling stage IV metastatic breast cancer, she maintains a mindset of living a life of purpose and meaning.

Jen works with organizations such as Pink Ribbon Girls, Pedal the Cause, STL Children's Hospital, and Camp Kesem and is raising her two kids to seek what makes them happy, be kind to each other, and always make time for a full out dance party to Lizzo.
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Introduce yourself!

Hi! I’m Jen Farmer. I live in STL with my husband Ryan and our two kids - Finn, 13, and Nora, 10. I worked in St. Louis morning radio on-air and as a music director for nearly 2 decades, but I recently left to focus on my health. I was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2016 and am currently a Stage 4 Breast Cancer thriver.

Jen wears the Katalin Mini Dress in Sangria Pink

Your Mestiza Muse nominator, Laura Sawyier, described you as a powerhouse when it comes to positivity, honesty, and making the most out of adverse circumstances. As someone who is battling stage IV metastatic breast cancer, do you have any words of advice for how you maintain this mindset?

Laura is a powerhouse as well! I definitely surround myself with strong, inspirational people who lift me up. I am very aware of the amount of time I have left. That reality (and the grief that comes with it) goes hand in hand with the joy I try to experience every day. When faced with my prognosis (the average life expectancy for S4 breast cancer is 5 years and I’ve had it for 4 & ½ years), all the static in my life disappeared in an instant and my priorities became crystal clear - take care of myself, spend as much time with the people I love, and live a life of purpose and meaning.

You’re an active member in the St. Louis community. Can you tell us a little bit more about the work you do and why it’s important to you?

I work with Pink Ribbon Girls, Pedal the Cause, STL Children’s Hospital Foundation, and Camp Kesem. Looking at these organizations, they are all able to find magic and joy in times of great sorrow and grief. Pink Ribbon Girls provides meals, transportation, cleaning supplies, and peer support to those battling breast and gynecological cancers. Pedal the Cause is a non-profit where 100% of the money raised goes to cancer research at Siteman Cancer Center. Camp Kesem allows kids whose parents have/had cancer to go to camp (for free) and find other friends who understand their situation. I work with Children’s Hospital as well because they, much like Siteman, have always been there for my family.

Everyone has their own struggles, and we each have to ask ourselves what we are going to do with that discomfort? I have been surrounded by so much love during my diagnosis that I feel the need to pay it forward so strongly. It’s incredible what we can accomplish when we come together to lift each other up.

As a young mother to two kids, what are some lessons you hope to pass down to them?

I just want them to know how much they’re loved. Living with cancer isn’t always easy and I remind them that things don’t have to be perfect, but we need to be kind to each other.

We also talk a lot about happiness. As my Dad taught me, it doesn’t matter how much money you make.  If you don’t want to get out of bed in the morning, it’s not worth it. Find something you love and do it to the best of your ability. It was difficult walking away from a job I loved, but my dying wish won’t be that I spent more time at work.

You were a radio personality for many years before you left to focus on your health. As someone who worked in music, what’s your current favorite mood-boosting song?

It has to be Lizzo! - “2 Be Loved (Am I Loved)”. My daughter and I have a full-out-dance-party and bust out like fools every time we play it.

After a long day, what is your favorite way to relax?

Going on a walk with friends or family. Exercise, even if it’s 15 minutes, gives me an energy boost! That, or a cup of tea and a great book!

You’re an avid reader, what was your favorite recent read?

Taylor Jenkins Reid is one of my favorite authors, and her latest “Carrie Soto is Back” is wonderful. I also really love “The Measure” by Nikki Erlick, and I’m currently working through Gabby Bernstein’s “May Cause Miracles.”

What is the biggest lesson you’ve learned throughout your journey?

I’ve learned to celebrate each day as a win. Watching the sun rise or set reminds me that I made it to another day, and that’s everything right now. My kids were 3 & 6 the day I was diagnosed. I didn’t know if I’d make it to the next year. I did, and I wish I could go back to my old self and tell her to be gentle on herself. And tell her that I’m still here. When I think about that, I think that’s my future self reminding me to keep going.

Jen's kids, Finn and Nora, the day Jen was diagnosed

Where are you wearing your new Mestiza piece and how does wearing your Mestiza piece make you feel?
I am wearing my Mestiza dress at the holiday pop up bar at Union Station in St. Louis. These bows are so festive and the dress brings up all the feelings of the holidays for me: every day is a gift, find light in the darkness, and believe.
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