In Memory of Karen
I used to think that amputation was the cure-all for cancer. You eliminated the cancer, so you should be free from it forever. Unfortunately, once I started the Move For Jenn Foundation, I quickly, and unfortunately learned it doesn’t work like that.
Not all sarcomas are the same. All subtypes work differently. Those sneaky cancer cells can be hidden, undetected, and strike whenever they feel like it. Cancer doesn’t discriminate. It doesn’t matter if you are a mom, a wife, a daughter, a friend, a force to be reckoned with, a true warrior, a badass who is willing to fight like hell (excuse my language), or even a “healthy” person with “healthy habits”…sometimes it just doesn’t matter.
One thing I know for sure is that when I think of this force of a woman, I will NEVER think that cancer "won." When I think of her, I will remember the beautiful person who was...the first sarcoma survivor to mentor me in person. The one who walked in our first coffee meeting with her infectious smile and beautiful curly hair, wearing skinny jeans and high heels. She was showing up as her true self right when I was wondering how I could ever feel like myself again after amputation.
I will think about how our initial coffee meeting created a new friendship over three hours of conversation. I will think about how this force of a woman endured a second amputation the same week as my first. I will think about her zest for life and how she never gave up.
Karen had a special energy about her. She understood the true meaning of being grateful to be alive on this planet.
You might remember her from our first Pajamas All Day 5K/10K in 2019. At the race, we had our first full circle moment as a nonprofit by being able to gift Karen a racing wheelchair so she could get back to being active - something she desperately missed.
You might remember her speaking to the crowd and her infectious smile. That is how I remember her. A true example of what it means to live and not hold back.
Last week, Karen took her last breath and is now free of cancer and pain.
This year, when you run at our race, we ask that you truly take time to appreciate the gift of movement. Remember why you are here and why you support Move For Jenn. Take time to let the cool fall morning air fill your lungs and appreciate the breath you are privileged to take. Take a moment to be thankful for being able to be alive and be present.
I challenge you this upcoming month to focus on gratitude. Don't sweat the small stuff. In the end, the small stuff doesn’t matter. Do it for yourself. Do it in memory of the people we help who aren't able to be with us in person. The people who deserved more time. Do it for the people who are in the fight of their lives.
Life and movement are a gift. At Move For Jenn, we're honored to be able to give that gift to our grant recipients.
Sending love, light, and peace to Karen's husband, Mike, and their wonderful children, as well as all of Karen's family and friends who adored this force of a woman. She deserved more time. She deserved a cure.
I am a LBKA that worked with Karen and Mike. Karen made a huge impact on the lives of many amputees and other folks as well! I am grateful to have known her and my heart goes out to Mike and his family! I will perform my next sprint on my high school track in her honor with my not made for sprinting prosthetic but I will still give it all I have in her honor!