Last Christmas, Jen Russell shared her story; the terminal cancer diagnosis that had knocked her for six the year before and the crucial role Penny Brohn had played in helping Jen to face the future with strength and positivity. Very sadly, Jen didn’t live to see the success of her appeal as she died in early December.
This year Jen’s husband Andy shares her legacy.
Andy attended a Living Well course with Jen at the beginning of her treatment, at our National Centre near Bristol. Living Well allowed Jen to regain control and purpose for the first time since her diagnosis.
“Jen really loved this amazing place and everything it stands for. And I know that she’d want me to do whatever I can to support it.
There’s nowhere else quite like it and to be without this compassionate and clued-up source of care is almost unthinkable. Even when Jen was really sick, she had such a great way of engaging with people. And although the odds were stacked against her, Jen remained incredibly upbeat and always got a real boost from the thought that her positive attitude might help others with their cancer journey.
She wasn’t going to give up on herself – and she knew that Penny Brohn wouldn’t either.
Everything about Penny Brohn struck a chord with Jen. When she was first diagnosed, she thought right, if I can’t be cured I’ll just manage it and live well with cancer. She started eating well, exercising doing all the right things… she was a very intelligent lady’ she knew why she should eat certain foods and the benefits of things like relaxation, but to have it reaffirmed by Penny Brohn’s cancer specialists made a massive difference.
There is a special ingredient they have here…”
Penny Brohn was the place to come when Jen needed time to focus on herself; not easy when you’re a Mum with two small children. She would also make a point of dropping in after having chemotherapy or seeing her oncologist. It would give her the lift she needed to bounce back again and be positive – something that meant very much to Andy – to see the positive Jen back.
“I still think of Penny Brohn as “Jen’s place”, just as it might have a special significance for you or someone you care about. But it’s also mine – and yours, available to anyone who needs it and I think that’s well worth supporting.”