There’s something amazing about the human spirit. It shines brightly in what might seem like unexpected places and shares its warmth and hope. Jen Coughlin is beaming with this spirit – it’s just part of who she is. For the last several months, Jen has fought a personal battle with cancer and watched a good friend go through the same thing. Yet, Jen radiates a type of loving peace. She says she’s been blessed with love and support throughout her battle, and now she is paying it forward.
When I first met Jen I admit my first thought was, “She’s fighting cancer? She’s glowing with beauty.” After just speaking with her for a few moments I understood. She’s just that way. We sat on her front porch while she shared her story, and I soaked it all in.
Her journey began when a good friend was diagnosed with breast cancer at the beginning of the year. This diagnosis prompted Jen to go in for her own mammogram. Three weeks later, Jen was diagnosed with the same type of cancer. Jen was told they caught the cancer in its early stages, but she still opted for surgery. The story quickly changed. The surgeons discovered that cancer had actually spread to her lymph nodes, and now Jen needed more radical treatment.
After recovering from major surgery, Jen endured chemotherapy. But she wasn’t alone. Support was rolling in. Friends brought food. Handwritten cards arrived (she’s got a whole bag full.) A friend made Jen a special quilt she took along to treatments. Her husband built her a recovery corner on their front porch so she could enjoy the outdoors while she recuperated. I could see the joy of gratitude in her eyes and hear it in her voice as she spoke about it. Now, she wants to give back.
Paying It Forward
Jen had a break between surgeries and chemotherapy and the upcoming radiation. She has used this time to give back, or pay it forward as she says. She started a team for the Susan G. Komen “Race for the Cure” and began to raise money. She’s even going to walk the 5K course with her young son. Her team members will wear bands of peonies. Jen says that she wants to do everything in her power to help beat cancer.
Jen has done an amazing thing. Her team has raised over $11,000. In fact, the Susan G. Komen organization noticed what she was up to, and Jen’s team will have its own special tent at the race on September 18 in Portland. No other individual has ever raised this much money. This fundraising total is an incredible feat.
I asked Jen how she raised all this money. She smiled and said she harassed her friends. I think it’s really more than that. Yes, she used email campaigns and social media, but I think her success also came from who and how she is. Jen is transparent about her story and what she’s going through. She wants people to understand how serious cancer is and that it can happen to anyone at anytime. She is acting as a public service messenger so fewer women will have to go through what she has. I think this message resonated, and people started donating good chunks of money.
There’s still time to support Jen’s team and help pay it forward. Donate Here. Or just simply share this story to share the message of hope and love.
Feature image source: Jen Coughlin