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Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Moms: Your Health Is Everything

By Katie M

Tomorrow is a significant day for me. It marks the one year anniversary of losing a dear friend – Jen B, co-creator and co-founding mommy of CharlotteSmartyPants. Jen was 36 years-old, a wife of only four years, a mom to 2 1/2-year-old Claire, and she died of lung cancer. Jen B never smoked a cigarette in her life, yet she was taken from all of us - who loved her dearly - way too soon.

It happened so quickly. Jen B barely showed any symptoms. I actually saw her at our monthly girlfriend get-together in Charlotte right before Christmas. She seemed fine; everything seemed great. That was the last time I saw her. Then at the end of January, I learned from Jen P (of CharlotteSmartyPants) that – for maybe as long as a month -- Jen B was battling a nagging cough that wouldn’t go away, and when Jen B had herself checked, they found a “spot” on her lung. I immediately called Jen B, but she could barely talk because she was so short of breath. Three days later, Jen B checked herself into the hospital and underwent a biopsy. Another three days slowly passed - and as we were all anxiously awaiting the results of her biopsy - Jen B passed away.

Jen B never knew she had lung cancer. Yet as Jen P eulogized, that was divine intervention. Jen B was probably one of the strongest people I knew, but knowing that she would be leaving behind her husband and daughter would devastate her. As hard as it has been to say goodbye to her, it’s been equally as comforting to know she went peacefully – and without any worry.

Although our lives crossed several times (we actually played for competing high school field hockey teams in NJ, unbeknownst to us), Jen B and I really didn’t become good buds until we worked together at a super-fun ad agency in Charlotte. It was there that our friendship solidified. And later, after getting engaged, married and having daughters within a few years apart, Jen B and I became sisters in this crazy little thing called motherhood.

For the short time I knew Jen B, I will forever feel blessed. Like Jen P noted in her blog, Jen B had a mesmerizing affect on everyone she met. It was all the little, thoughtful things she did that would leave you in awe. And while she is no longer with us, I not only feel her connection every day with my involvement with SmartyPants, but I feel her inspiration, her ideas, her calling, and her passion. She is the true reason we - SmartyPants - are here today.

So as much as this is a much-deserved tribute to Jen B, I also want this to be a calling to moms everywhere to be vigilant of your own health. I know you always hear of how we moms put our health second to our children and husbands because we are always the care-takers, or we are too busy. Well, it’s time we take notice of ourselves.

It’s important to have a primary care physician and to get regular check-ups (and not JUST the annual check up from your gynecologist either!). And while a primary physician may not have helped Jen B because her cancer was so advanced, perhaps this blog will serve as a reminder and help those who might be able to be helped.

February 4 is now my wake-up call to schedule an annual physical. My doctor is Dr. Ted Toberg with Premier Medical Associates (affiliated with Forsyth Medical Center) on Brookview Hills Blvd (off Hanes Mill Blvd) in WS. He comes highly recommended for those without a primary physician.

So now you know our routine. I posted my doctor, and now you post yours in the comments section below. That way we build a great referral list for everyone throughout all parts of the Triad.

Thanks for your help, and thanks for your continued support of TriadSmartyPants!


Anonymous said...

Prayers go out to her family as I am sure the one-year mark was tough today.

Anonymous said...

Jen's story touches my heart. I, too, had a dear friend pass away from lung cancer. She did not smoke. My prayers go out to her family.

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