From Jen’s Blog

Two years ago, a client was referred to me. When I received her information forms, my heart sunk. The paperwork described a woman, in her thirties, who had been diagnosed with Sarcoma, a rare cancer, in 2003. She had already endured 26 months of chemo and 4 abdominal surgeries. The next day, in my waiting room, was this adorable, bubbly girl with a wide smile and beautiful white teeth. When we started to talk, she was very pragmatic. She was cancer free but wanted to put herself in the best place nutritionally in the event that the cancer came back (and she said it just like that). We devised a plan and, not one to waste precious time, she immediately implemented everything we outlined. This client’s name is Jen but I no longer think of her as my client. I think of her as my friend, my teacher and my hero who I will miss so very much. Jen passed away on Wednesday and her funeral is today. 
“And in the end, it’s not the years in your life that count, it is the life in your years.”-Abe Lincoln
The quote above appeared on Jen’s Facebook page where people have been sending their wishes and sharing their sadness. Jen wasn’t one to stay sad though; she knew how to live. She and her husband Dave started Cycle for Survival and it’s the most successful patient initiated charity Memorial Sloan Kettering has ever had raising over nine million dollars to for rare cancers. I remember sitting with Jen, in November, she was at Sloan getting a blood transfusion and fairly weak. Never one to let an opportunity slip away Jen was signing nurses up for Cycle. Marc and I were honored to experience  Cycle this spring on Team Fearless, Jen’s team. And in all the times I have seen Jen since that first office visit, that smile never faded.
I don’t have wit in me right now but tried to capture some Jen lessons:
Rejoice in what your body can do. 
The second Jen was cleared by doctors she was at the gym trying to regain her strength. Oh and did I mention she asked for a stationary bike in her hospital room? She started Cycle, in part, because spinning was what kept her sane though her treatments and illness. I wrote about Jen before I ran Chicago this year. I was anxious about the race (the weather was much like today) and received this email from Jen:
I am so excited for your marathon next week. If you get tired running just think of the fact that many of us take for granted what a privilege it is to be able to run. With my stomach cramps and tumors, I haven’t been able to truly run in years. I miss it so, so much. So enjoy all 26.2 miles because you can! I will be cheering for you from afar.
I will run this morning before the funeral Jen, because I can, and I’ll think of you; I’ll play Chumbawamba too.
Know when to see the trees instead of the forest.
Jen endured a roller coaster life of progress and setbacks. When she received news that wasn’t good, she wanted a plan. When the plan for the new treatment was in place, Jen would focus on the steps involved or the treatments. She was like a quarterback who could hone in on the play without getting distracted by all that was happening around them. I think this helped her live fearlessly.  So when you are daunted, sit back and make a game plan. Anytime you feel shaky just refer to the plan. There is something very Zen about this.
Vanity is Good
Jen often joked, “I can be bald or fat but not both” and wrote a great WebMD piece about this. I had found it hard to figure out how clients battling things way more important than weight cared about their weight. Jen’s doctor explained it “being vain is a GREAT thing. It shows that you have a true desire and willingness to live.” There is something about our hair and our weight that is integral to who we are. It isn’t shallow to cling to these things when tested. It shows you are hanging on.
Tell People What You Need (or Don’t Need)
Jen was her own advocate. I heard from Jen regularly and at one point didn’t get a reply. I panicked. I  sent Jen an email “everything OK?” I made a mistake and said “I’m worried.”  Jen emailed back all right. She said, “please don’t say you’re worried. It makes me anxious.” While I was daunted at first, I learned a lot about communicating with people when they are ill from Jen.  I made another mistake on July 11th.  Jen’s doctors had some concerns about her blood work and we were emailing about what she should eat. I offered to drop off some things after work. Only, it got late and I didn’t think I should bother her. Jen sent an email I got in the morning “I didn’t know if you were coming, no package was left.” She called me on it and that was my last email from her. I’m sorry Jen, what I would do now for one more conversation, to see that smile one last time.
 Jen turned 40 this past March. She was the happiest person in the worth to turn 40. It was a gift and she did a “dance” video in her own honor. This makes me smile; please watch it to see Jen in action.
In Jen’s words:
“We all have a choice in how we want to live our lives … I have chosen to be Me Fearless. I have applied this approach to every aspect of my life and, in the process, I’ve discovered that amazing things present themselves. My mission now is to encourage those around me to apply that philosophy to their lives and relish in the results. You can become You Fearless.”
Let’s all try, in Jen’s honor. 
Jen chronicled her journey on her site


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