Jenn, I was really hoping that this day, the day I write this blog post in your honour, wouldn’t come. You defied every timeline that doctors put on you. You were originally given three months to live when you were diagnosed with Metastatic Breast Cancer at 29 years old but you thrived for three more years. I’ll never forget our heartbreaking conversation when you said you’d been given just weeks or months to live and then made it hopeful by saying, “But they’ve given me timelines before so it won’t be weeks – it’ll be months.” And that’s just what you did. I’m sad that you are gone but I will cherish the extra time that I got to spend with you.
There are so many things to love about you. Your sense of humour and your ability to make everything funny, even awful cancer side effects. It was always so enjoyable watching you makepeople uncomfortable in the honest way you would tell it like it was but also in a lighthearted, not-taking-anything-too-seriously way. You made everything more fun, even if it was just waiting for doctor’s appointments.
I’ll never forget the way your face lit up when speaking about your legacy. You spoke often that even if you couldn’t save yourself, you would save a future you through your advocacy and fundraising efforts. There is no doubt in my mind that you will save a future you. You should be so proud of yourself for raising over $200,000 for the Jennifer Landa Breast Cancer Visiting Lectureship, a lecture series that will bring international breast cancer leaders to Mount Sinai so that medical professionals can learn from one another. As a Rethink advocate, you leant your face and voice to our MBC Allies campaign, World Cancer Day campaign, you advocated at Queen’s Park for MBC, and openly shared your story through Rethink’s blog so that other young women wouldn’t feel alone. Your goal to help as many people as possible will live on forever. I know you are smiling right now thinking of this, which makes me smile writing it.
You found beauty everywhere, even on your hardest days. One of my favourite memories of you was how excited you were when your designer wheel covers for your wheelchair were installed. If you had to sit in a wheelchair, you were going to do it your way – in style. That is how you lived. This was also the last time I saw you and I will hold this memory fondly in my heart.
I will never look at a beautiful flower or a delicious red velvet cupcake without thinking of you. Whenever I watch any of The Bachelor shows I will remember our weekly recap conversations about all the drama and how we would laugh at it all. I will miss my friend who always asked how I was doing and remembered what was going on in my life. You were my confidant who completely understood and accepted me.
The world was a better place because you were in it. I promise to live my life in your example, with a warm heart, as a fierce advocate, finding humour in the heartbreaking moments, and appreciating every day. I feel honoured that I was lucky enough to be your friend and will cherish that forever. I miss you already but know that your legacy will live on forever.
– xo Emily
To read more about Jenn, click here.