After cancer battle, MI woman gets big surprise

Posted at 1:44 PM, May 09, 2016
and last updated 2016-05-11 07:58:08-04

Jenny Richardson just thought she had a bad case of pneumonia. While she was navigating the halls of Clawson High School during her senior year in 2007, the 18-year-old noticed something was off.

“I was sleeping in every class, I could barely make it up the stairs,” said Richardson.

A couple of months after graduation with the exhaustion far from subsiding, she went to her doctor. Several tests and a CAT scan later, she waited for news.

“Right after the CAT scan, they had called me and my mom and asked us to come in,” said Richardson.

The word she didn’t expect to hear at her age: cancer. Specifically, stage IV Hodgkin's lymphoma.

“I was only 18, so I didn’t know what to think. I had no idea what it was — I  had never heard of it. So, they told me that I’d have to start chemo right away,” said Richardson.

Outside the doctor’s office that day, Richardson and her mom hugged each other and cried.

“I was just devastated because when your kid falls down, you put a Band-Aid on their owie and you kiss it and make it better. I could not make this better. I could not fix it for her,” said Jenny’s mother, Vicky Williams.

Aggressive chemotherapy over the following months was helping, but doctors told Richardson it wasn’t enough. A stem cell transplant would be the best shot to save her life.

As doctor’s explained the process, they also revealed a common side effect. If she were to undergo the stem cell transplant, the chances were high that she would never be able to have kids.  

“I think one of the biggest complications that can happen is that most people become infertile, so it’s very unlikely to have children after having the stem cell transplant,” said WXYZ Chief Health Editor Dr. Partha Nandi.

But, for Richardson, a chance to live was worth the sacrifice—and the treatment would prove successful.

She finally went into remission in 2010 and headed back to school to pursue a career in the medical field, inspired by the medical professionals who helped her through treatment.

A year later, the then 22-year-old fell in love.

“I would stare at him like every day. Like, 'I  want to talk to him, but I was too chicken,’” chuckled Richardson.

That boy she fell for was Bryan Bengie.

“She’s very funny, she can act as goofy as I can sometimes,” said Bengie.

The pair dated, parted ways for a few years—until finding each other again and getting serious in 2014.

“I knew if I could get her to go out one more time, it would happen— I  wanted to marry her,” said Bengie.

But before the big marriage plans, came an unexpected surprise.

"I hate cucumbers, for some reason, I was like, 'man, I really want those cucumbers off of the veggie tray,’” said Richardson.

That was the first sign. A pregnancy test later confirmed her suspicion.

“I sit down and I just call my mom like ‘mom…wha-  I  don’t know what to do,'” said Richardson.

Her mother was elated to hear the news she thought she never would.

“I said 'oh my God, oh my God, oh my God, oh my God'—and  I  wanted to tell the world, but we waited,” said Williams.

Richardson's pregnancy progressed —a baby shower was planned, and then another life-changing moment.

“It was the very last present and I open it up and it was this onesie,” said Richardson, holding up a onesie that read “mommy, will you marry my daddy?”

"I was in complete shock," said Richardson. She said yes--and on Dec. 28, 2015, the pair welcomed Lillyan June into the world.

“It was the most amazing moment of my life. It was amazing. She is just a miracle that I just, I  still have to pinch myself,” said Richardson. "I  can’t even believe that I have a baby."

Richardson and Bengie are planning to tie the knot on Bengie's birthday next year, July 1, 2017.

Through everything, Richardson said she wanted people to know her story, and to know that there’s always hope.

“Just don’t give up, I mean it might be hard, but you’ll get through it.”