I first met Jen my freshman year of college. We were taking a break from an endless game of quarters at the Sigma Chi dorm and were sitting on large bench outside, enjoying the warmth provided by the Indian summer in North Carolina. We talked for several hours...about everything from college classes to roommates to boys. And just like that, we became friends.
Almost as quickly, it seemed, college was over and I was living back in Portland, Oregon. This was before the days of my myspace or facebook or even email (yes, I remember life before email) so it was much harder to keep in touch with everyone after graduation. Over the ensuing years, all my friends were going to graduate school or being promoted or getting married and having babies. In early 2003, I remember hearing the news that Jen had recently married a wonderful guy named Dave Linn and was living in New York City. Unfortunately, the next news I heard about Jen was almost a year later when I found out she had been diagnosed with a rare and often fatal form of cancer called sarcoma.
|Jennifer Goodman Linn|
Over the ensuing years, Jen fought her cancer. And she fought it hard. She endured at least eight rounds of chemotherapy to shrink the tumors and six surgeries to have them removed. But the cancer kept returning.
"I'll be bald or fat but not both." Jen so famously said this to her doctors after her first surgery when she asked to have a stationary bike brought into her room at the hospital and was about to begin chemo treatments that would lead to her losing her hair.
Always thinking of others, Jen wanted to give something back to the doctors at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center who had helped her through her initial treatment. As someone who loved spin classes, Jen and her husband set up a fundraiser at their local Equinox gym with a goal of raising $10,000 for rare cancer research. They raised $250,000 that first year. Jen's charity was officially founded in 2007 as Cycle for Survival and since that time, it has raised over $25.1 million for rare cancer research (with 100% of funds going directly to research).
Cycle for Survival has expanded from the single Equinox gym in NYC where Jen first hosted the event to 10 cities nationwide on 5 different days and 13,000 riders. I was honored to be part of a team last February in NYC with three other women who were also Jen's friends from college. It was the first year of the event since Jen's passing and it was both an emotional time and a time for us to celebrate Jen.
|Jen riding in Cycle for Survival|
|riding in memory of Jen (February 2012)|
Or, if you'd like to be entertained, you might want to watch this video of Jen celebrating and dancing on her 40th birthday -- a birthday that so many women dread.
Jen believed anything was possible if you lived a life without fear. "What I once viewed as obstacles, I now see as opportunities." Imagine what we could do if we lived life with this perspective.
Jen has been on my mind lately as Cycle for Survival events are taking place all over the country this month. I've been thinking about Jen and trying to identify what I am afraid of in my life. How I can live my best life and how I can be fearless.
What are you afraid of?