When I was a carefree twenty-something finishing up my degree at McGill University, I met a like-minded spitfire from Chicago named Jenna. She and I came into each other’s lives through men, as our college-age boyfriends were lifelong friends. Over the years we moved on, leaving behind our studies, the boys who introduced us, and eventually our carefree-twenties. I started my writing career in Montreal, and Jenna went back to her native Chicago and became the Assistant Regional Director of the Anti-Defamation League in the Upper Midwest Region.
But then, Jenna’s course changed. In December of 2010, she was diagnosed with Grey Zone Lymphoma, one of the rarest forms of blood Cancer. Like everyone else who knew her from our days at McGill, I swallowed the news with a grain of denial, and a heaping spoonful of anger. Jenna took the news and turned it into a mission. Not only was she going to conquer cancer, but she was going to educate the rest of us while doing it.
“While I willingly accepted the fact that cancer would cause unavoidable physical changes, I was unwilling to allow the disease to rob me of my voice. For the past six months I have struggled with what it means to hold on to my voice and eventually reclaim it. There were moments when I could not talk, but I was communicating. There were moments when I was quiet, but I was really screaming. As I desperately tried to find my voice and struggled to be heard, I realized that I would need to embrace Cancer in order to beat her.” – Jenna Benn
In the past five months, Jenna has gone from old college buddy to respected life teacher. With her poignant and honest blog, Kill it in the Butt, Jenna takes a pragmatic look at life, Cancer, and all the good things that can come from embracing a less-than-ideal situation. Whether you’re a cancer patient, the friend or relative of a cancer patient, or just someone looking for some good solid life lessons, you’ll be touched by Jenna’s honesty and candid humour.
Today, in the midst of her treatment, when most people would be hiding, Jenna became a featured contributor to the Huffington Post. We can all learn a thing or two from this amazing woman.