My Sister Jenny

This story is about my sister Jenny Higley Lynch. Jenny is a 31-year-old mom who loves her family, the outdoors and making people laugh. In 2005 Jenny was diagnosed with Glioblastoma Multiforme, an aggressive brain tumor. The prognosis was not good. The doctors told Jenny that she would have less than 2 years to live. Although she was 4 months pregnant at the time, Jenny underwent brain surgery to remove the tumor and immediately began radiotherapy. Five months later, following the birth of her beautiful daughter, Phoenix, she began oral chemotherapy.

It has been more than two years since Jenny's diagnosis. Our family was optimistic since her health seemed to be surprisingly good. She wasn't too sick from the chemotherapy and she was even working again.It was a horrible blow when, after an MRI in July of 2007, we found out the cancer was spreading to other areas of the brain. We were unable to understand how she could seem to be doing so well, but still be so sick. We rallied our hopes and Jenny and her oncologist came up with a new game plan. They decided to have an Omaya reservoir implanted. This device is surgically inserted under the scalp for direct injection of chemotherapy throughout the spinal fluid. This surgery left her in pain and made her very sick for a couple of weeks, but she came through it and began the chemotherapy.

Almost a month later, in October of 2007, Jenny became extremely ill and was taken to the hospital where she was diagnosed with Spinal Meningitis. This illness took a huge toll on her and her family. Not only was it physically devistating, but it was an emotional roller coaster. She was put in a hospital in Salt Lake City which is about 60 minutes from Farr West where she lives. This made visitation, child-care and work for her husband, Ernie, and our mother a logistical nightmare. Jenny had to endure 3 or 4 surgeries (we lost count) to relieve intracranial pressure and to insert and remove shunts and drains. Finally, extremely weak and unwell, Jenny was discharged and sent home. She had less than a month to recuperate before the next phase hit.

On December 21 Jenny got another infection in her spinal fluid which caused a lot swelling in the area around brain. She was taken to the University hospital in Salt Lake City again. Within a matter of hours she lost all ability to speak and many of her motor functions. She was in the University of Utah Hospital for 4 weeks, where she battled infection, endured more surgeries and tried to get well. After this she was moved to Salt Lake Regional Medical center where she had 3 weeks of physical, speach and occupational therapies and more antibiotics.

Thankfully, Jenny is home now and in the care of family and friends. Although she seems peaceful, she has sustained considerable brain damage and needs 24-hour care. She cannot perform most every-day functions without a lot of assistance. Speach is minimal and somewhat confused, and we don't know how damaged her thought processes are. She has a hard time concentrating and understanding problems and she cannot yet walk on her own. Most of her time is spent sleeping, watching TV or watching her surroundings.

My dear sister is not the same active person I know and love. I don't know if she will ever fully recover. My family is in a waiting game. Ideally, Jenny will recover and be able to resume her chemotherapy. Meanwhile, her family is faced with a single insurance carrier that doesn't completely pay for all the care she has undergone this far, let alone the care she needs now. The cost for her hospital time alone is astronomical. There are two young daughters and a husband to consider.Our hope is that people whose lives Jenny has touched can help. Every dollar you give will go to provide Jenny care and her family support. Perhaps more important, it will provide Jen's family some of the hope they need to get through this difficult time. We know that God has a plan for Jenny and we are trusting in him. We know that he will bless you for your donation.Thank you.
by Heather Chamberlain
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Erin, Jenny, Phoenix and Ernie

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Some time now

Well, I haven't posted anything for a long time, mostly because I ran out of material. I am looking for new things Jenny wrote all the time and my mom has a lot of her stuff, but I have the impossible job of determining what is appropriate and what is not too personal to post.

Jenny had a book or journal she wrote a lot of her poems in. She started keeping it when she was in high school. It was given to her by her best friend Jen Sykes (formerly). I went through the book when I was in Utah for the funeral and typed all the entries so that we could make a book out of it someday. There are apparently other books and I have yet to get them. Anyhow, when I was busily typing them as fast as I could I turned the page and found a poem she had written to me. I did not know the poem was in there, and so I was shocked when I read the title. Of course, I cried for a long time and tried to compose myself enough to type the poem. I thought I'd share that with you right now:

Sister Dear
(For my Sister, Heather)

The dusty skies
Looked upon us
As we played
From morn’
Until night.
Our naked
Feet ran
The freshly
Cut grass
And the melancholy
Sounds of the the
School bell
Reminded us
That life was
Not all play.

The Soft Spring
Breeze flew our
And the golden
Sun lead us
Dancing behind
In its rays.

My sister dear
Such sweet memories
Linger on
Like a photograph
Album kept
Safely in my mind.

The world was ours
At break of day!

This poem is obviously very dear to me. I wanted to tell you a little bit about my childhood with Jenny. Jen is 2 years younger than I am and so when we were little we spent a lot of our play times together. We grew up on a farm and this made for the best adventures and fun. Mornings we would spend in Dad's barn searching for feral kittens left alone by their mother for a short time to find food. Barns seem to draw this type of animal life. Sometimes we had to be really quiet and listen for the little mews coming from the many stacks of hay. Once we heard distinct signs of life we would climb through the bales and see who could find the little families first. Unfortunately for us, after first contact was made by humans the mother would usually relocate her herd during the night and that would be the last we saw of the kittens. But it didn't matter, nature would almost always repeat itself and we would have new kittens shortly.

Afternoons found Jen and I riding bikes with our neighbors, the Polson's, who also had 5 girls. There was a friend for each one of us in a corresponding age. We would drive back and forth from our driveway to theirs for hours playing lots of fun games. I especially remember playing cops and robbers. It's funny but Jen always offered to be the robber. I think that says a lot about her personality. She also always offered to be the boy when we would play "Love Boat," or "Fantasy Island," she was the ultimate Tom-boy. I loved her for that. She was so reckless and free and had the best ideas.

There's a reference to flying kites in the poem Jenny wrote. I remember many March days running through my dad's fields flying kites. That was a big treat for us. When I think of those days I almost always get teary eyed. They weren't out of the ordinary. Many of you may have experienced similar days in your lives. However, I know a lot of people who didn't have close siblings to play with. I feel very blessed to have had Jenny to play with. Did we always get along? NO, and that's an emphatic no, but the good greatly outweighed the bad and I still think of those days and feel like the angels were watching us and smiling. I like to think that Jenny is now an angel watching her little girls play together and smiling all the while. I hope they are as close as we were.

I am going to try and post more often. I have to locate material so if you have any stories of my sister or any of her writing please forward them on to me and let me know. I think people would prefer to read her work!!

Thanks for reading


Travis said...


This is Travis Larson, I hope you remember me, it's been a while. I stumbled across this page about Jenny, I had no idea, I wish I would have known . . .

Write me sometime. Is there anything I can do for you? I need to call your Mom and Dad. You all were such a big part of my life for so long, and Jenny was my friend. This just leaves me without words...


Travis said...

by the way, its

Shellee said...

Jen obviously loved and admired you Heather. What a blessing to have so many of her journals and poems, this one about sisters is beautiful.