This blog post was originally posted back on September 19, 2009 at Diabetes1.org which owns the copyright of this blog. Due to my inability to update some of the links that no longer work - I have had to resort to posting the blog here.
My friend Darlene's daughter Jenna, was diagnosed with Stage IV Avealor Rhabdomyosarcoma cancer at the age of 15. It is a cancerous form of tumor growth that originates in the soft tissues of the body, including the muscles, tendons, and connective tissues and is very aggressive. The most common sites for this tumor to be found include the head, neck, bladder, vagina, arms, legs, and trunk (abdomen). Jenna had been battling this beast for the past 2 years - and her motto was "One Step at a Time".
I felt a very close connection to Jenna, as many of us did that knew her parents/family. We were all fighting along side of her in her battle in one way or another. I know I was ready to kick butt for her!!! Also, since Spring time, Jenna had been using a pump to infuse morphine to deal with the pain. I felt in some way very more connected to her, maybe because of my being on an insulin pump that keeps me alive and healthy.
Back in July I saw Jenna when she was visiting her Mum and stepdad Shawn in Rochester, NY (Jenna lives in Carleton Place, Ontario with her father Bob and his wife Jennifer). She was in pretty good spirits - your usual spunky teenager 17 year old (she can really belt out a tune - I told her she should be on American Idol - and she looked at me like I was off my rockers with that comment ). It was great to see her enjoying herself and it brought my hopes up for her, as I'm sure it did for others.
Sadly, a few weeks later, she started to experience alot of pain and had to go back to hospital. During that time she fought the battle of her life and with all her might - but sadly she passed away this week - on September 16th, 2009. All I know is that her spirit will continue on forever, she was not only beautiful, but also had great courage and remarkable strength.
I just know that if I could have traded my life as a diabetic for hers - I would not have hesitated in a nanosecond! As I'm sure others would agree with if they thought about it. If Jenna had been diagnosed with diabetes rather then this evil cancer - she would have been able to survive. Yes, we have complications associated with diabetes, but we can live with them if we take care of ourselves.
You can read more of Jenna's story from her father and stepmum's journal - at Jenna's Memorial Fund, Helping Kids with Cancer.
NOTE: Jenna's Mum finally got to come on board to our Catalina 30 this past weekend - that is named Jenna's Journey. Sadly, without her husband, as he himself had succumbed to cancer only a few years later after Jenna. Another angel in heaven has earned their wings.
The day I saw this boat back in the Spring of 2010, in the backyard of a house in Marblehead, MA, a butterfly flitted by and seemed to hover. I felt a strange tingle go through me, and I started to cry for some reason (and I'm not a gal that takes easily to shedding a tear). Jenna LOVED butterflies. I looked up at the boat that my husband was taking a look at with the owner and it was like she was giving me signal. That this was the boat she wanted to be on with us on our travels. My tears were happy tears knowing she'd live on with us with her name and silhouette proudly displayed on the sides of our boat.