Less than two months ago, one of my best friends succumbed to breast cancer. Jennifer Campbell battled it like no one I know ever could…with a smile on her face. When diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer three and a half years ago, she still managed to find the positive in everything, even though her struggle got a little worse every day. She passed at just 32 years old, after starting the fight at 25. (I’m trying to be careful and not say “lost her battle,” because anyone that could wear a smile on her face through it all like she could…did not lose at the game of life). Metstatic Breast Cancer is an often forgotten breast cancer. This is the terminal, Stage IV, breast cancer, that often is driven by hormones. Metastatic means the cancer has hopped from the breasts to any number of host sites in the body, most often: the bone, lymph nodes, lungs, brain, and liver. Jen had MBC in all of these places, except brain (which she, like other MBC victims fear the most), with ultimately the liver not being able to fight it off. And, yes, young women can get it too.
There are many cancers out there, I know. Many great causes for awareness, research, and financial support too. But, no one, especially with a spirit like my friend Jen should have to leave this Earth way too soon. It’s irreversible. She is now forever in the hearts of many.
Jennifer is one of the many young breast cancer stories out there. But, this one is close to home for those of us in HoCo, because up until the diagnosis…she was an independent thriving dental hygienist at Dr. Becker’s office in Ellicott City, she lived off of Guilford Road in Owen Brown, and was a busy-body in several local Meetup.com groups, like Columbia-Dogs-on-the-Go, Charm City Social Club, and 20s and 30s Baltimore Nightlife Group, and non-Meetup group, Maryland Outdoor Club. Her dogs, Shadow and Chloe, even have their photo hanging at the nearby Pub Dog on Dobbin Road. I make sure to say a prayer every time I walk by that photo now.
October has become widely known as Breast Cancer Awareness Month. My email inbox is flooded with all these great ways to help women living with breast cancer and to help researchers determine the cause and stop BC from ever happening in the first place. Some of the great lesser known fundraisers and awareness events that I’ve seen so far:
- Dr. Susan Love Research Foundation (National research and awareness)
- The Red Devils (Maryland charitable organization)
- Let’s Dish! Pink Dish! Campaign: providing convenient, wholesome meals free of charge to families facing the challenge of a breast cancer diagnosis. I’m organizing a group to join me in Jen’s name on Wednesday, Oct. 10, Columbia location, 4-7 pm Flex Time session. (Local to Chesapeake Region)
- White House | Black Market Shop for a Cause on Thursday, Oct. 4 (Nationwide, Online)
- Shopping for a Purpose on Sunday, Oct. 14 (Local, benefiting The Claudia Mayer Cancer Resource Center)
- MBCN Day on Saturday, Oct. 13 (Nationwide)
- 20th Annual Komen Maryland Race for the Cure on Sunday, Oct. 21 (Hunt Valley, MD)
How I’m helping this month:
- Wearing lots of pink, ribbons, and sporting my thirty-one handbag that I acquired at the last fundraiser we held for Jen in February. Handing out pink ribbons too.
- Facebook may not have turned Pink for Breast Cancer (yet), but my page has!
- I filled out a quick and painless (5-10 minute) Health of Women (HOW) survey available to both people with and without breast cancer. Every response helps.
- I am dishing for the Pink Dish! cause at Let’s Dish! this month. If you use code DISHPINK2012 to register for any October Let’s Dish! session, Let’s Dish! will donate $10 to the Pink Dish! Campaign, which provides meals for families coping with breast cancer.
- I contributed to a young MBC survivor’s walk that supports the Dr. Susan Love Research Foundation. “Though the walk may be over, breast cancer isn’t.”
- I’m attending the Think Pink weekend at The Mall in Columbia, Saturday and Sunday, Oct. 6-7.
- I’m volunteering at the 2012 Half-Full Triathlon on Sunday, Oct. 7, which raises money for Ulman Cancer Fund for Young Adults, to help young adults like Jen. (Lance Armstrong will be participating).
- I’m attending Jen’s public Dental Lab Dedication Ceremony on Thursday, Oct. 18 at the YTI Career Institue – Capital Region campus in Mechanicsburg, PA.
- I’m joining the YTI Career Institue – Capital Region team at the Making Strides Against Breast Cancer Walk on Oct. 20 at City Island. (Link to follow when available).
- I’m sharing Jen’s story here, on Columbia.Patch.com, and in a travel bug (trackable) on the Geocaching.com web site. (Don’t know what Geocaching is? Click here).
- Attending the Monday, Nov. 12, “Go Pink for Breast Health” Wellness at Wegmans speaker series, presented by St. Agnes Hospital. I’m organizing a group to attend this too.
I may be doing a lot of different things this month, because it’s my outlet to keep Jen’s spirit alive, but really even the smallest things add up. And, I’m telling you about it, to show you the many different ways there are to help out. I’m curious to hear in what way, you, your business are helping raise awareness or funds for research. Or, how having met Jen has changed your life for the better. Please add your comments below.
Thank you for reading.
- Photos of Jennifer
- Jennifer’s blog, La Bella Vita
- Jennifer’s Caring Bridge page
- Jennifer’s favorite charity, the Patient Advocate Foundation.*
*Jen was a big believer in rescuing homeless animals. It would mean just as much for you to contribute funds to your own local animal shelter, to help out animals in need everywhere.