Returning to college for the first time in a decade - Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Returning to college for the first time in a decade

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After years of fighting for her son's health, Jennifer Shaw Blanchard returned to a community college in Dyersburg for the first time in more than decade. After years of fighting for her son's health, Jennifer Shaw Blanchard returned to a community college in Dyersburg for the first time in more than decade.
Blanchard's son suffers from Beckwith-Wiedemann Syndrome, which is an overgrowth-related disorder. Blanchard herself also was born with the rare disorder that causes large body size and organs among other things. Blanchard's son suffers from Beckwith-Wiedemann Syndrome, which is an overgrowth-related disorder. Blanchard herself also was born with the rare disorder that causes large body size and organs among other things.

(WMC-TV) - With a little more than two weeks into 2014, some Mid-Southerners may already be regressing on their New Year's resolutions. 

But for some in the Mid-South, their goals for the upcoming year mean more than going to the gym or keeping a balanced checkbook. For those with plans regarding serious health resolutions or honesty revelations, it is not an option to fall back on what they promised to themselves. 

Action News 5 asked for your stories on our Facebook page, and below is what they shared.

Returning to college for the first time in a decade 

After years of fighting for her son's health, Jennifer Shaw Blanchard returned to a technical college in Dyersburg for the first time in more than decade.

"Let's just say the last month or two we have just been getting the bare necessities as far as groceries. No special yummy goodies unless on sale and definitely no steaks," said Blanchard with a laugh. "If there's a will, there's a way."

Blanchard attended Dyersburg State Community College in the early 2000s and studied computer programming. She decided to take a job instead of finishing her education at 22 years old.

When starting a family with her husband, Blanchard said she regretted her decision.

"[When pregnant] I went in for a ultrasound they estimated his weight to being almost 16 pounds. I cried because I honestly did not want this for my son. I was scared he would have to endure the bullying as I did, and I didn't want him to feel like I did," she said.

Blanchard's son suffers from Beckwith-Wiedemann Syndrome, which is an overgrowth-related disorder. Blanchard herself also was born with the rare disorder that causes large body size and organs among other things. 

"Exactly two months old he got his [tracheotomy] put in because the base of his tongue blocked his airway," recalled Blanchard. "The doctors wanted to see if he would grow into it, and I also thought it was best because my tongue [looked] awful from the surgeries [as a kid]."

While the family continued nonstop visits to the doctors' office, the last thing on Blanchard's mind was returning to college. Also, she was pregnant with her daughter during Garrett's tonsil surgery and trach removal.

After months of concern, baby Addisyn Jaymes was born healthy.

"Garrett still goes to the doctor for scans and checkups just to make sure nothing is wrong, but everything has slowed down as far as going to the doctor two times a week," said Blanchard, who is now 33 years old.  

She started class at Tennessee College of Applied Technology in the beginning of January with the help of financial aid. She says if she is able to get a student loan then nothing will stop her from finishing college this time around.

"To be honest I just want to be able to do more for my kids, have a little more fun," said Blanchard, who aspires to go into accounting after graduation. "I would love to be able to take my family on a vacation."

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