If there’s an upside to cancer, Jennifer Friedman Ackerman managed to find it.
Diagnosed at only 24 years old with breast cancer, Jennifer was much younger than others she met fighting the disease, and she struggled to find a peer group for support. But she took those feelings of isolation and disorientation and turned them around. A self-described “local poster-child for breast cancer,” Ackerman uses her survivor status to help other young women navigate the frightening and life-changing waters of breast cancer.
“I’m always willing and open to sharing my experience – the good, the bad, the ugly – with young women dealing with cancer so they never feel like they’re alone,” she said. “I can show them there is light at the end of the tunnel. Life can go on, and there is so much to look forward to. Fighting this tough fight is worth it.”
Fighting Cancer with Optimism
Like all truly successful people, Ackerman refused to see herself as a victim. Instead, she found even more reason to be optimistic.
“I immediately took the fighting approach,” she said. “I wanted to give myself the best chance of living a long life, regardless of the steps I had to take to make that happen. As odd as it may sound, going through this made me a much more positive person. I did my best not to let [cancer] affect me more than it needed to.”
During her cancer fight, Ackerman used her real estate work as an outlet, to live “like any other normal 24-year-old girl.” But not many young women feel real estate coursing through their veins the way Ackerman does. The daughter of Dallas power broker Mike Friedman, whom she views as both father and professional mentor, she’s been learning the business her whole life.
“I can only hope, like my father, that I am in this business for 45 years and I am as well-respected and successful in this industry as he is,” she said.
CandysDirt.com: Speaking of success, how do you define it now? Has that changed?
Ackerman: That’s a tough question because I’m a naturally competitive person. In everything I do, I give 110 percent. But in all honesty, success for me isn’t about getting top agent awards or selling 50 properties a year. Success is self-satisfaction — knowing I did everything I could for my clients and my family. Professionally, I judge my success one house at a time. And personally, if my husband and I can make it through a meal at a restaurant without our two-year-old daughter starting a tantrum, that’s what I consider a HUGE success.
CandysDirt.com: Oh, man. Us, too! Toddlers!
Ackerman: (Laughing) It’s bound to get easier at some point, right?
Professional is Personal
CandysDirt.com: I imagine that going through something like cancer at a young age would give you a lot of empathy for other people.
Ackerman: Yes, I think it has given me a better understanding of how to deal with widely different dynamics by having an empathetic heart. Everyone in life is going through something, and in this industry you come across it all. Some situations are happy, like those wanting to move into a larger house for their growing family, or a couple getting married and buying their first home together. Then there are those times that are hard for people; children selling a parent’s home after their passing, or someone needing to sell for tough financial reasons.
CandysDirt.com: Sounds like it’s personal for you.
Ackerman: Residential real estate is much more personal than most people think it is, and bonds created between my clients and me go far beyond just a purchase or a sell. At the end of the day, I just hope that I provided the best experience for my clients regardless of their situation and that I made whatever they were going through a little bit easier.
A Dallas-ite from birth, Virginia Cook Realtor Jennifer Ackerman covers real estate from McKinney to Dallas, and all areas in between. During her “off” hours, you can find her volunteering at the Celebrating Women Luncheon hosted by Baylor University Medical Center at Dallas, or working with the National Breast Cancer Foundation.